BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
WEST POINT – Holy Trinity Catholic’s girls softball team was 600% better this year.
That’s not hyperbole, that’s real math. A team that one just one game last year in its first year of softball since 2012 won six this year.
But one of them wasn’t the Class 1A Region 8 first round game at South Park Tuesday night. Holy Trinity, minus its only 1st team all conference player in 2020 in Brooke Mueller, fell to Lone Tree 10-4 ending the year for Crusaders.
Mueller, the team’s sophomore catcher and offensive spark plug firing next to Kayla Box, had to miss the game with a surgically repaired thumb. She broke it against West Burlington last week trying to tag out a runner at home.
“Taking her bat out of the lineup, taking her out from behind the plate you’re moving a potential all-conference center fielder in Haile (Cain) out of her spot and moving players around – it’s part of the game, you do what you gotta do,” said HTC Head Coach Loren Menke.
Mueller said it was heartbreaking for her not to be with her teammates.
“It was really hard because I love playing with my team especially at the end of the season. It was heartbreaking to be able to play the whole season and then get to post season and I’m unable to play,” Mueller said.
“I was still very lucky I was able to come and cheer my team on and participate in the dugout with all the cheers and be positive.”
Cain had to move to the catcher’s spot which threw Teegan Snaadt, just an eighth grader into center field. Snaadt made several running catches and filled in nicely for Cain. The open lineup spot pushed Kelli Meierotto to second and typical 2nd baseman Laura Mehmert went into left field for a little speed defensively.
But the Lions jumped on starter Mary Hellige hitting through the lineup in the first and second innings enroute to a 6-0 lead after two. HTC managed just two base runners on singles in the first two innings off Lone Tree starter Arlie Lorack.
The Lions would put up two more in the third inning and were looking to add more but a single by Hogan Eden to center sent Kayla Dautremont headed for third. A sharp throw from Snaadt right at the bag got Dautremont by half a step for the third out.
The Crusaders would get on the board in the bottom of the third. Cain would fan to start the inning, then Anna Sobczak put down one of three drag bunts for hits on the night. Mary Hellige would then reach on a fielder’s choice that moved Sobczak to third.
Kayla Box followed with a double down the line over the top of Eden’s glove at third scoring both Hellige and Sobczak. A pop out to first would end the inning with HTC down 8-2.
Lone Tree would add an insurance run in the top of the fourth and seventh and Lorack would hold the Crusaders in check through the sixth inning.
HTC would start things in the seventh with Cain and Sobczak getting on with no outs before Hellige clubbed one to the fence in center scoring two to set what would be the final score at 10-4. Kayla Box reached on a walk to put two on still with no outs, but a strike out and sacrifice bunt moved runners at 2nd and 3rd before a fly out to short ended the game.
“We just had too many errors. It’s hard to win with nine errors,” Menke said. “We left runners on base. We didn’t hit great, but if we would have kept the game a bit more in line, we could have put a scare into them.”
The Crusaders are not graduating any seniors so the whole team will be back for the 2022 season.
“We were better in all aspects. Everything starts with pitching in fast pitch softball and Mary was markedly improved over last year and she works her tail off so she’ll be even better next year,” Menke said.
Sobczak went 3-for-4 on the night with two runs scored to lead Holy Trinity. Hellige had two hits, 2 RBI and a run scored. Box, Menke and Meierotto each had hits in the loss.
Hellige went all seven innings and gave up 10 runs five earned on nine hits, while striking out three and walking three.
Holy Trinity finished the year 6-16 and 4-8 in the Southeast Iowa Superconference.