The Creston softball team saw both ends of the spectrum here Tuesday night in a varsity doubleheader split with Atlantic.
Creston won the first game 5-2 and lost the second game 12-4, making the Panthers 16-8 overall and 8-2 in Hawkeye 10 Conference play. Atlantic sits in sixth place at 15-13 and 8-5.
After both teams struggled offensively through the first four innings of the opening game, Atlantic struck first with one run in the top of the fifth.
But, Creston answered right back with five runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Josie Sickels knocked a two-run single and then Haylee LaMasters smoked a 3-1 pitch into the bushes beyond the right-center field fence for a three-run home run to put Creston up 5-1.
Atlantic added another run in the top of the sixth inning, but couldn’t get any closer than 5-2.
“I thought, up to that point, neither team had done much,” Creston head coach Mike McCabe said. “I guess I thought we had been a little impatient. Came back in the bottom of the fifth and got five big runs and the big shot was obviously Haylee’s three-run homer.
“That’s the kind of at bats we were talking about having — staying off her stuff. She got a 3-1 count and really put a good swing on a pitch,” he continued. “I’ve got to mention Josie’s base hit, too, was the one that gave us the lead. That was huge. Then you get the insurance with the three-run shot.”
LaMasters did a good job of keeping the Trojanns off balance in the opener, striking out seven and allowing just three hits in the game.
But, things didn’t go quite as smoothly for the Panthers in the nightcap.
Jami Sickels put the Panthers on the board first with an RBI single in the bottom of the first, scoring Kiana Stuart to put Creston up 1-0.
Then things came apart at the seams for Creston in the top of the third inning.
The inning opened with a leadoff double by Emily Mitchell, followed by a walk. And then came a misplay of a bunt to load the bases with no outs.
LaMasters ended up walking five batters in the inning and giving up three hits, as Atlantic pushed across eight runs in the inning.
McCabe eventually pulled LaMasters in favor of Taylor Briley with two outs in the inning, but the damage was already done, as Atlantic led 8-1.
“Second game, we just turned a good ballgame into a mess,” McCabe said. “That third inning, I probably couldn’t have even recreated it. We didn’t do a whole lot there. We certainly didn’t defend very well. We didn’t communicate on a bunt play. We walked people. We got behind in counts. It was a long inning.”
Creston scored two in the bottom of the third as Briley and LaMasters led off with back-to-back doubles and LaMasters scored on a passed ball, but Creston stranded a runner at third in the inning.
The Panthers cut the lead to 8-4 with another run in the bottom of the fourth inning, but the offense stalled out from that point forward and Atlantic scored four more runs.
“I give Taylor Briley credit for coming in there,” McCabe said. “I give her credit for coming in and battling for us. I thought we showed a little bit of fight, and told them we still had a lot of at bats left there. It’s just hard to overcome that. We scored in three innings straight, but it’s hard to overcome an eight-run inning.”
Briley pitched 4 1/3 innings of relief, allowing four runs on seven hits with two strikeouts and one walk.
Even with the loss, though, McCabe made sure his team knew nothing was lost when it comes to the team’s conference goals.
“Nobody wants to go out and have an inning like that, but you know what, everybody has a stinker,” he said. If it can be a little wakeup call for us and get our attention, then that’s good. We’ll find out. It’s one game and we’ve got a lot of games left. You’ve got to play 18 to determine the winner of the conference.”
Creston returns to action Thursday at Clarinda.
Creston 5, Atlantic 2
R H E
Atlantic 000 011 0 — 2 3 0
Creston 000 050 0 — 5 8 0
Tori Bruck 3K 1BB and Brooke Newell. Haylee LaMasters 7K 3BB and Natalie Mostek. W — LaMasters. L— Bruck. HR — Cr: LaMasters 1. 3B — none. 2B — Atl: Reann Cappel 1. RBI — Atl: Maren McNees 1. Cr: LaMasters 3, Josie Sickels 2. Multiple hitters — Cr: Taylor Briley 2.
Atlantic 12, Creston 4
R H E
Atlantic 008 010 3 — 12 13 4
Creston 012 100 0 — 4 7 2
Tori Bruck 0K 2BB and Brooke Newell. Haylee LaMasters 1K 6BB, Taylor Briley (3) 2K 1BB and Natalie Mostek. W — Bruck. L— LaMasters. HR — none. 3B — none. 2B — Atl: Emily Mitchell 1. Cr: LaMasters 2. RBI — Atl: Bruck 4, Mackenzie Holmes 3, Reann Cappel 1, Mitchell 1, Erin Olsen 1, Josie Anzalone 1, Maren McNees 1. Cr: LaMasters 2, Jami Sickels 1. Multiple hitters — Atl: Bruck 4, Mitchell 3, Homes 2. Cr: LaMasters 3, Briley 2.