BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DONNELLSON – If you ask Central Lee girls softball coach Tiffany Woodruff why the Lady Hawks are playing so well, she just smiles and searches for words.
“You saw it. It’s just them,” Woodruff said after Central Lee broke out of a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the sixth inning to knock off visiting Lone Tree 13-3.
Central Lee is now 5-1 on the year, with the only loss coming at the hands of New London, a 6-1 affair at home last week.
Meghan Hopp started in the circle for Central and retired the top of the 1st on just four pitches all ground outs.
Junior Zoe Eschman reached on a bunt single to open the bottom half and would come around to score on Daly Brisby’s sacrifice fly to left. That’s all the Hawks would get in the first going up 1-0.
Neither team scored in the second, but Lone Tree would tie it up in the top of the 2nd. Kayla Dautremont would lace a double to the fence in left center and would come around on a two-RBI single from senior Whitney Wiloz. Hopp would get Lillian Miller to ground out to first to end the inning.
A base running blunder in the bottom of the third may have cost the Hawks a run. Freshman Makayla Morrison singled to center with no outs and was moved over to second when Eschman laid down a sacrifice bunt. Macy Watkins then lofted a bloop fly that landed in no man’s land behind the pitcher. Morrison got caught in between 2nd and 3rd and was thrown out trying to get back to second. Brisby would then strike out on six pitches to move to the fourth.
Sophomore Arlie Lorack broke the tie with a monster blast about 240 feet to left center that not only carried the fence, but the first row of cars behind the fence. The Lions would tack on another run when Sara Branson came around after reaching on a fielder’s choice to score on Allison Marshek’s single to right off Andrea Benner’s glove at 1st.
Lone Tree’s Abby Buckman settled in in the fourth inning after giving up back-to-back one-out singles to Halo Arrowood and Hopp. She got Sophie Woodley and Benner on strikes to end the inning.
The Lions would chase Hopp in favor of Sophie Turner in the top of the 5th up 3-1. Hopp got the first two hitters, but Woodruff had seen enough when a Wiloz pop-up dropped in the infield and a throwing error moved her to second.
Sophie Turner came in and gave up a single but Wiloz was held at third. Lorack would hit into ground out at third for the third out.
The Lady Hawks would tie it up on the bottom of the fifth. Morrison and Eschman reached to start the inning with no outs. Watkins would move the girls over with sacrifice bunt and then Brisby would stroke a 2 RBI single to center, before Buckman would close out the inning stranding Brisby.
Turner would yield just one single in the top of the 7th and got two groundouts to put things in the hands of Hawks’ bats.
Hopp started the inning with a double to center that would normally have been a single, but an aggressive step around first allowed her slide into second safely. Turner would work a walk and Benner would single to load the bases.
Morrison would hit a sacrifice fly to to center to score Hopp on a very close play at the plate. Eschman then singled driving in two more to make it 6-3.
“She was letting me swing away. I knew I just had to make contact,” Eschman said after the game.
Woodruff said Eschman is very versatile and provided options.
“It’s great that she’s there. I mean we can do a squeeze – we can do a lot of things with Zoe, but anybody could step up there and I would have confidence in them,” Woodruff said.
Lone Tree would bring in Lorack, who walked Watkins after being up 1-2 in the count. Eschman and Watkins would move up on a passed ball and then Brisby drove one right down the line in right that clanked off the fence for a 2 RBI double, with fans in the outfield indicating the ball hit the foul pole for a home run. The double stood for an 8-3 lead.
Shanna Buford kept the hits coming with just one out with a triple that scored Brisby. Arrowood followed with a single scoring Buford forcing another Lone Tree pitching change.
Kinley Hayes stepped in the circle and proceeded to give up singles to Hopp, Turner, and a game-winning single by Benner to right to invoke the 10-run rule at 13-3.
Woodruff said she told the girls in the fifth down by two that the game wasn’t over.
“We had one bad inning and threw the ball around and that’s not us,” Woodruff said.
“Megan struggled a little bit on the mound, so we brought Sophie in and I said, ‘you can’t give up, the game’s not over’. We played a little small ball and it just kept going and going after that.”
Eschman said things got a bit contagious in the dugout in the sixth.
“Everyone’s attitude just got way better after we started hitting. It got smoother. Everyone just came together,” she said.
The Hawks face a tough test Thursday night when they travel to 2019 Southeast Iowa Superconference South division champs West Burlington for a 7 p.m. game.
“I think we can beat them,” Eschman said. “But we have to get our bats and attitudes together. When we hit, our attitudes are positive so we just have to bring our bats.”
HITTING: Arrowood – 2-4, 1 RBI; Woodley – 0-1; Eschman – 2-3, 2 RBI, 3 runs; Morrison – 2-3, 1 RBI, 1 run; Watkins – 1-3, 1 run; Hopp – 3-4, 2B, 2 runs; Brisby – 2-4, 2B, 5 RBI, 1 run; Buford – 1-4, 3B, 1 run; Benner – 2-4, 1 RBI, 1 run; Turner 0-1. PITCHING: Hopp – 4 2/3, 7 hits, 1K, O BB, 3 runs (2 earned); Turner 1 1/3, 2 hits, 0 runs.