CLARINDA — Coming off a Hawkeye 10 Conference loss to Atlantic in its last game, Creston head softball coach Mike McCabe knew his team needed to jump out to an early lead Thursday against Clarinda.
His team did just that, posting an early 9-0 lead before letting Clarinda close it to 9-6 and eventually scoring three more runs in the seventh to post a 12-7 conference road win over the Cardinals.
Creston improved to 17-8 for the season and 9-2 in Hawkeye 10 Conference play.
“We kind of entered a little bit of a hornet’s nest,” McCabe said. “They’d been playing well, just took a doubleheader from Lewis Central. I thought it would be important to jump ahead. Really proud of how the kids bounced back. We were up 9-3 after three, and made it more interesting than it needed to be.”
The Panthers got a two-out rally in the first to score two runs, and then picked up two more runs in the second inning.
Creston exploded for five runs in the third inning, as senior Mackenzie Andreasen started the rally with a single. Shelby Palser followed with a single, then Jami Sickels put down a sacrifice bunt.
Brenna Baker and Nicole Haley, hitting in the eight and nine spots in the order, each ripped RBI singles and Josie Sickels smacked a two-run triple.
“We’re sitting pretty nice, feeling pretty good about things, and then we kind of let them back in it a little bit,” McCabe said. “Had a little trouble finding the strike zone.”
Starting pitcher Haylee LaMasters walked the first two batters in the bottom of the fifth — the eight and nine hitters in the order, and then surrendered just one hit in the inning.
But, it was a big hit as Emily Beadle put a ball over the fence for a three-run homer, cutting the lead to 9-6.
“Give them credit,” McCabe said. “They came back and got momentum on their side. We felt really good when we tacked on those three runs in the top of the seventh inning. Those came up pretty big. They had the bases loaded, so we felt fortunate there to come away with a win.
“I was proud we dug in and got those insurance runs for Haylee,” McCabe continued. “They’d been playing well, especially at their place, so we felt fortunate to come away with a win.”
Taylor Briley hit a two-run triple in the seventh inning and scored on a LaMasters single to give Creston a bit of a cushion.
Creston received contributions from everyone in the Panther lineup, totaling 17 hits in the game.
“Early in those first three innings, we were hitting the ball up and down the lineup,” McCabe said. “Our eight and nine hitters were huge for us. They started two big innings for us. Everybody up and down the lineup was involved in some way. We had 17 hits and we needed every one of them.”
Creston returns to action today at the Dallas Center-Grimes Classic, taking on Earlham at 1 p.m. and then playing in a potential regional semifinal preview against Dallas Center-Grimes at 3 p.m.
Brenna Baker and Josie Sickels combined to pitch a one-hitter in an 11-1 win over Clarinda on Thursday.
Jami Sickels went 2-for-4 at the plate with two doubles and two RBI, while Kiana Stuart was 3-3 with two RBI and Fyock went 1-2 with two RBI.
Creston improved to 6-5 for the season in junior varsity competition.
Creston 12, Clarinda 7
R H E
Creston 225 000 4 — 12 17 0
Clarinda 003 030 1 — 7 9 2
Haylee LaMasters 6K 7BB and Natlie Mostek. Emily Beadle 0K 0BB, Marissa Anderson (3) 2K 0BB and Kayree Buch. W — LaMasters. L— Beadle. HR — Cl: Beadle 1. 3B — Cr: Josie Sickels 1, Taylor Briley 1. 2B — Cr: LaMasters 1. RBI — Cl: Beadle 3, Buch 2, Jaydra Moses 1, Anderson 1. Cr: Briley 3, Josie Sickels 2, LaMasters 2, Mostek 1, Mackenzie Andreasen 1, Brenna Baker 1, Nicole Haley 1. Multiple hitters — LaMasters 3, Shelby Palser 3, Haley 3, Taylor 2, Andreasen 2, Baker 2.