BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
WEST POINT – Holy Trinity Catholic has already tied it’s season win tally from last year.
The Crusaders looked crisp in a 8-3 win over Mediapolis Monday night at South Park to open the year at 1-0. They finished last year 1-10 and 0-6 in the Southeast Iowa Superconference.
“The girls have impressed me. They’re basically the same girls out there, but a year more mature and I would have been surprised if we weren’t a little better this year,” said head coach Loren Menke.
“How much better remains to be seen.”
The Crusaders got down early trailing 1-0 going into the bottom of the 1st. But Brooke Mueller doubled in a run and came around to score on a dropped third strike throw out. Mary Hellige, who got the win for the Crusaders, drew a walk and would also come around to score to open a 3-1 lead that Holy Trinity wouldn’t relinquish.
The Lady Bulldogs went three-up, three-down in the top of the 2nd on back-to-back groundouts to first baseman Rachel Menke and a ground out to second baseman Laura Mehmert.
Mehmert would get off to a solid start of the season with 2-run double to right center in the bottom of the third to score Hellige and Kayla Box and give the Crusaders a 5-2 lead.
Mehmert also recorded four outs in the game, including two sharp line drives she snared on a step.
“She played a great game defensively, but that hit drove in two runs and that was a huge hit at that point in the game. She gave us a bit of breathing room and when you haven’t been winning if you can get some breathing room that helps a lot,” Menke said.
Hellige would give up a single in the top of the 4th but a come-backer to the mound and fly out to Anna Sobczak in right field would end the threat.
Holy Trinity wouldn’t score in the fourth despite a lead-off single. Mueller looked to keep things going with what appeared to be a two-out grounder to third. The throw pulled Mediapolis’ 1st baseman off the bag, and Mueller was initially called safe. But the call was overturned by the home plate umpire who said Mediapolis reestablished at the base to retire the side.
Hellige would strike out the side in the top of the 5th, but HTC would also go scoreless in the bottom half of the frame.
Hellige would again give up a single with two outs and then worked a groundout to short to end the top of the 6th.
A single by Mueller, who went 2 for 4 with 2 runs and an RBI, loaded the bases with two out in the bottom of the sixth. A wild pitch plated a run. A walk and another wild pitch would give the Crusaders three unearned insurance runs in the bottom half of the sixth for an 8-2 lead.
Hellige would get the first two hitters out in the top of the 7th, but then give up a single and a walk and then another long single to sophomore Hannah Russell before Jayde Eberhardt slapped a ball down the first base line where Rachel Menke gobbled it up for the final out.
Mueller and Kayla Box led the way with two hits each. Box had a double and two RBI, Mueller had a double and an RBI. Haile Cain, Sobczak, Mehmert and Teegan Snaadt all had hits for HTC.
Hellige stands at 1-0 on the year and record four strikeouts against one walk and scattered seven hits.
“Mary pitched well. She’ll eat up most of our varsity innings. We’ve got a 20-game schedule so if her arm holds out, she’ll see most of the action.” Menke said.
“I expect us to be pretty decent up and down the batting order. I’m excited and I think we’ll be better all the way around.”