Mustangs gallop on Cyclones in opener
The HCHS varsity softball team opened their season Monday night against the Dallas Center-Grimes Mustangs, dropping the game 16-0 in three innings.
“Any ball that was put into play and was playable, we caught or we played it out, so I felt like they did a really good job with all of the playable balls,” said Cyclones Head Coach Brandi Eckles. “Something that we definitely need to work on right away is more hitting.”
Cyclones starting pitcher Jenna Gessert lasted just one inning before eighth grader Camryn Goshorn came in to start the second inning. Gessert later returned and recorded her first strikeout of the season.
“She [Gessert] has not had as much time on the mound recently because she’s super active in track and does really well with that,” Eckles said. “I thought it was pretty appropriate for this first game for Jenna and Camryn to share the mound and both get some innings in.”
The Mustangs jumped on the Cyclones early with two home runs in the top of the first inning; one each by Aubrey Johansen and Izabella Mulder taking a 5-0 lead before the Cyclones had their first at bats.
The Mustang offense continued to gallop over the Cyclones with Lydia Zaruba knocking in two runs on a double over the head of Cyclone left fielder Teya Frohlich. Soon after, Senior Mustang Zoey Valenta launched a 3-run home run, putting the Mustangs up 16-0, dropping 11 runs in the top of the third inning.
Johansen pitched three innings for the Mustangs, striking out seven Cyclones, walking one batter, while allowing no hits. Ellie Ineson was the only Cyclone to get multiple at bats.
The Cyclones next game will be Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. on the road against the AHSTW Vikings who went 18-9 during their 2022 campaign. Offensively, they were led by Rylie Knop with 36 hits and Natalie Hagadon with 21 runs batted in. Ally Meyers had 13 wins with 80 strikeouts with a 2.21 earned run average.
“I really would like to work on hitting tomorrow quite a bit and then get on the bats for sure,” Eckles said. “I think our fielding is pretty solid, so I think we just need to get some hits.”
Vikings defeat Cyclones for first win of the season
The HCHS girls varsity softball team dropped its second consecutive game to start the season. After getting shutout in their home opener, the Cyclone bats came alive with eighth grader Suzy Kenkel getting the first hit of the season in the top of the third inning.
“It was a really good feeling to get the bats to click,” said Cyclones Head Coach Brandi Eckles. “It just happened a little too late in the game. We need it to happen early on, but it was really promising to see that.”
Sophomore Viking Loralei Wahling and Senior Cyclone Jenna Gessert were pitching to start the night for their teams. Until the bottom of the fifth inning, Gessert and Wahling were in a pitchers dual, neither of which allowed a run until Viking Graycen Partlow knocked in the first run of the game on an RBI double.
“They were on the mound just battling, hitting their spots, keeping people off balance and both of them threw a heck of a game,” said Vikings Head Coach Trevor Gipple.
The Cyclones had two opportunities to add runs, but came up short when Teya Frohlich was thrown out trying to score at home in the top of the 6th, and Kenkel was thrown out at home to end the game in the 7th.
“Our defense is what we’ve got to rely on,” Gipple said. “We’re very fundamental when it comes to defense. Two awesome relays to save runs at the plate. Those are momentum changers and so I felt like once we got the first one, the momentum shifted and then the big one to end the game.
The Vikings added a few more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, leading to their first victory of the season after dropping their game late Tuesday night to the Audubon Wheelers 5-3.
“It feels really good,” Gipple said. “It’s a great way for the girls to bounce back and just an impressive game for them defensively.”
For the Vikings, they battle the 0-2 Tri-Center Trojans Thursday in Neola. Last season, the Trojans went 7-15 and were led by Hayden Thomas with 34 hits and 15 runs batted in. Thomas had six wins, an earned run average of 4.97 and struck out 73 batters.
“Tri-Center just keeps improving every year,” Gipple added. “They’re tough outs at the plate. Hayden Thomas is a heck of a pitcher. I know she’s coming back from an injury, but I saw she threw pretty good last night, so it’ll be an exciting contest for my batters for sure.”
For the Cyclones, their road trip continues Thursday at 2-1 ADM. The Tigers finished 31-6 last year, making it all the way to the Class 4A State Consolation Game, losing 3-0 to the Indianola Indians. Offensively, the Tigers were led by Olivia Tollari with 49 hits and Aliya Yanga with 26 runs batted in. Yanga led their pitching staff with 15 wins, a 1.05 earned run average and 280 strikeouts.
“I know that these ladies absolutely have the ability to do it,” Eckles said. “It’s the mindset that they need to work on.”