BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
WEST POINT – With ominous clouds lurking from the north, and an even more ominous situation developing in the top of the seventh, sophomore Haile Cain tracked down a hard hit ball to center to give Holy Trinity girls their second win in a row.
The Crusaders knocked off a stubborn New London squad 10-8 in Southeast Iowa Superconference south softball action at South Park in West Point.
With Holy Trinity holding a 10-6 lead going into seventh inning, New London’s Morgan Jones reached on a Crusader fielding error. Sophie Mallot then singled to Cain in center who came up with snap throw that almost got Jones on a force at second.
“I’ll tell you what Haile’s playing great. She’s been hitting the ball really well and had a homer the other night and she’s an awesome center fielder,” Head Coach Loren Menke said.
Kaitlyn Lee then grounded out to Teagan Snaadt at second moving both Jones and Mallott up a base with one out. Sophomore Natalie Burden then hit a hard infield grounder that Snaadt mishandled at second allowing both Jones and Mallott to score, the throw from right field came into home, but it was cut off and fired back to second where Burden was caught trying to advance on the throw for the second out.
The play proved to be a critical out because sophomore Chevy Mills would smack the next offering from Mary Hellige into the right center gap to bring the tying run to the plate. But Elly Manning would hit a drive to center that Cain would track down on a dead run to end the game 10-8.
Holy Trinity only had five hits on the night, but took advantage of timely hitting and stolen bases to capitalize on the hits. The Crusaders opened the game with three runs in the bottom of the first highlighted by Brooke Mueller’s line drive to center that drove in Cain. Anna Sobczak and Mueller would both score in the inning as well.
New London cut the lead to 3-2 in the top of the fourth when Jones scored on a passed ball two pitches before Hellige retired the side.
HTC would counter with four runs in the bottom of the frame.
Kelly Meierotto walked to open things and Snaadt popped out in foul territory for the first out. Cain would single to right, and Sobczak would reach on a sacrifice bunt that was dropped at first allowing Meierotto to come in for a 5-2 lead.
Mueller would take one off the thigh to put runners at 1st and 2nd. Then Hellige scored everyone with a double down the left field line to make it 7-2.
New London countered with four of their own in the top of the fifth highlighted by an RBI double from Ashlyn McSorley and a 3-run homer to left-center from Marah Hartrick to cut the lead to one at 7-6 with no outs. Hellige would settle in and get three of the next four to end the inning without further damage.
In the bottom half Holy Trinity would pull away again. Haley Rohdy would give up three walks in the first five at bats. A fielder’s choice scored one run, then a wild pitch and bases loaded walk plated the other two before New London would get out of the inning.
Hellige would hold the Lady Tigers in check in the top of the sixth with a three-up, three down inning setting up the final inning.
The Crusaders had just five hits on the night, but Hellige had 3 RBI with a bases loaded walk in the fifth. Cain had two hits, an RBI, and three runs scored. Mueller and Box had the other HTC hits.
“It didn’t feel like we hit the ball that well. We drew quite a few walks, but it just didn’t feel like we were up there to thump the ball,” Menke said.
“Hopefully we’re starting to get back in a groove here. It felt a little lethargic tonight. Not exactly what I was hoping we’d feel like, but we got the win and we’re not a team that can complain about a win.”
Hellige threw 117 pitches giving up 10 hits and eight runs, five earned, in getting her fifth win of the year. She struck out four and walked two.
The Crusaders (5-9) take on Mid-Prairie (4-22) in a doubleheader Wednesday at South Park and then travel to Hillcrest Friday night for a single game.