SHENANDOAH — The Creston softball team didn’t take long to rebound after its 11-game winning streak was snapped over the weekend, pouncing on Shenandoah early here Monday in a 12-3 win.
The Panthers improved to 13-5 for the season with the win and 6-0 in Hawkeye 10 Conference play.
Creston jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first inning Monday after nearly being out of the inning.
After two outs in the inning, Haylee LaMasters was hit with a pitch. Natalie Mostek then drew a walk. Senior Mackenzie Andreasen smoked a two-run double into center field and then freshman Shelby Palser hit an RBI single to put Creston up 3-0.
“The key for us was the first inning,” Creston head coach Mike McCabe said. “We were right there, almost out of the inning with nothing and we get three.
“We had moved things around. We’d been batting Mackenzie down in the order in hopes of getting her going. That worked. She was 7 for her last 15. It was her chance to move up to the fifth spot. She drove in two huge ones in that first inning. That changes the whole game. All the momentum is on our side.”
Andreasen and Palser both recorded multiple hits and both drove in four runs for the Panthers out of the fifth and sixth spots in the order.
Brenna Baker also broke out of a slump with two hits in the game.
“Shelby had three straight base hits in her first three at bats, drove in four runs on the ballgame,” McCabe said. “She had a nice night batting right behind Mackenzie in the six-spot. It was good to see Brenna. She kind of broke out tonight, had been struggling a little bit. Got a couple of hits.”
The Panthers added to their lead with three more runs in the third inning when Mostek continued her hot streak with an RBI double, followed by a two-run single from Palser.
After Shenandoah made it 6-1 in the bottom of the third, the Panthers added to the lead once again in the fifth inning on RBI singles from Jami Sickels and Taylor Briley. Palser hit an RBI grounder in the sixth inning.
Creston added three more in the seventh when LaMasters brought a run home with a walk and a two-RBI single by Andreasen.
The 12 runs scored by the Panthers was more than enough for LaMasters, who baffled the Shenandoah hitters throughout the game.
LaMasters struck out 13 batters and issued just three walks, allowing five hits.
“Haylee pitched pretty well against a team we had scouted, had been playing pretty well,” McCabe said. “They had a 3-0 win over Glenwood. They really swung the bat. Had a lot of first pitch swingers. I thought Haylee pitched pretty well. Struck out 13, walked three. A few of those walks came pretty late.”
On the flip side, the Panther batters struck out just twice in the game against Shenandoah pitcher Jordan Major, doing a good job of putting the ball in play.
“To be fair, the Major girl, she’s a real good pitcher,” McCabe said. “She’s not overpowering, but moves the ball around. We did a good job of putting it in play. We had some at bats where we were aggressive outside the strike zone. Fortunately for us, knock on wood, we’ve got some other kids up and down the lineup who can pick us up.”
Creston travels to Denison (14-6 and 7-4) tonight for a varsity doubleheader against one of the best hitting teams in the conference.
“We’ll be in for a battle tomorrow night,” McCabe said after Monday’s game. “Probably the toughest hitting team in the conference. It’ll be a big challenge, and obviously a long road trip up there.”
Denison-Schleswig fell to Lewis Central 4-3 on Monday. The only other team undefeated in the Hawkeye 10, Harlan, was a 4-3 winner over Kuemper Catholic on Monday.
The Creston junior varsity team improved to 5-5 for the season with a 9-0 win over Shenandoah on Monday.
Brenna Baker, Taylor Briley and Josie Sickels combined to pitch a two-hitter, striking out a combined four batters.
The Panthers totaled seven hits and took advantage of five Shenandoah errors.
Josie Sickels was 2-3 with a triple and one RBI. Briley went 2-3 with a triple and one RBI. Kiana Stuart was 2-3 with a double and one RBI.
“We did a nice job of adjusting and getting some hits, and taking advantage of their errors,” Creston JV coach Teri Keeler said. “We were able to get out of a couple innings with some good defensive plays.”
Creston 12, Shenandoah 3
R H E
Creston 303 021 3 — 12 15 1
Shenandoah 001 002 0 — 3 5 2
Haylee LaMasters 13K 3BB and Natalie Mostek. Jordan Major 2K 5BB and Beth Wilson. W — LaMasters. L— Major. HR — none. 3B — none. 2B — Cr: Mostek 1, Mackenzie Andreasen 1, Brenna Baker 1. RBI — Cr: Andreasen 4, Shelby Palser 4, Taylor Briley 1, LaMasters 1, Mostek 1, Jami Sickels 1. Shen: Major 1, Mikayla Palmer 1. Multiple hitters — Cr: Briley 3, Palser 3, Mostek 2, Baker 2, Andreasen 2. Shen: Devon Wood 2.