Norfolk High softball looking for momentum
Sweeping a pair of games from Columbus, by scores of 7-0 and 11-7, Tuesday evening leaves Norfolk High one game shy of a .500 season (16-17)--with one regular season game against Lincoln Pius X on Thursday--and, hopefully, building momentum toward the Panthers’ first-time entry in the Heartland Conference Tournament this weekend.
Norfolk coach Derek Siedschlag said he’s seeing plenty of things that suggest the Panthers have improved and “cleaned things up”--like hitting the ball and playing defense.
“In that six-game losing streak we had, I think we counted up 14 errors, and we committed to the fact that we can’t have that,” he said. “In the first game tonight, they had however-many errors--we put the ball in play, (forced) them to make the play. In the second game there were a lot of line drives, a lot of hard-hit balls.”
In game one, with its best pitcher suffering an injury early on while batting and unable to pitch, replacement Columbus pitcher Taylor Braun allowed the Panthers just four hits, but gave up 10 walks, and her defense committed five errors.
After Norfolk’s Makenna Waldow led off in the game with a single and later scored from second on a Columbus throwing error, the Panthers took advantage of four of those walks in the second inning to increase its lead to 4-0.
Payten Magnusson slugged a double to open the fourth and later scored on Taylor Schmidt’s bunt to add a run before the Panthers scored two more in the sixth with the help of four more walks and another Columbus error to create the 7-0 final score.
Brandy Unger and Sydney Rahder also had hits for Norfolk.
Meanwhile, on the mound Rahder allowed just two hits while striking out 11 Discoverers in the shutout.
In game two the Panthers once again scored to start the game, this time on Maddie Wolfe’s double to left that drove in Rahder and Emma Armbruster, who had reached on an error and base-on-balls, respectively, for a 2-0 lead.
Armbruster’s home run to centerfield in the third increased the lead to 3-0, but Columbus had a big inning of its own in the top of the fourth, scoring five runs to take the lead.
Back-to-back home runs by Kate Smith and Rebecca Hazlett brought about a Norfolk pitching change with two Columbus runners still on base.
“The second game was a complete team win--Brandy (Unger) goes out there--they start hitting her hard, we go to Paeton (Coler), she inherits runners on first and third, and when she gives up a couple of runs we bring Sydney (Rahder) back--we knew she’d shut things down,” Siedschlag said.
When those two runners scored, the Discoverers’ lead increased to 5-3, but the Panthers put three consecutive runners on base--two on walks and another as a hit batsman--and all three scored, as did another, on back-to-back two-RBI singles by Waldow and Coler to put Norfolk up 7-5 after four innings.
Columbus tied the score in the top of the fifth after Macee Trotta doubled and Smith walked, when Hazlett’s two-RBI single drove in both.
But Norfolk finished off the win in the bottom of the sixth inning, scoring four runs on Schmidt’s walk and consecutive singles by Rahder and Armbruster, and capped by another Magnusson double that drove in two to finalize the Panthers’ 11-7 victory.
“We hit the ball (in both games) and, as I’ve said, when you put the ball in play good things happen,” Siedschlag said.
Columbus slips to 10-16 on the season.
Columbus 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -- 0 2 5
Norfolk 1 3 1 0 0 2 x -- 7 4 0
WP: Sydney Rahder. LP: Katie Stachura. 2B: (N) Payten Magnusson.
Columbus 0 0 0 5 2 0 0 -- 7 7 1
Norfolk 2 0 1 4 0 4 x --11 11 3
WP: Rahder. LP: Melanie Jones. 2B: (C) Macee Trotta (2); (N) Maddie Wolfe, Magnusson (2). HR: (C) Kate Smith, Rebecca Hazlett; (N) Emma Armbruster.