The Creston softball team looked to be in command of the game, leading 2-0 with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning of a Class 4A Region 8 contest against Carroll here Thursday.
But the Tigers got back-to-back singles and a walk to load the bases for cleanup hitter Haley Stevens, who hit a sharp grounder to Brenna Baker at third base.
Baker fired home to try to get the force out, but the Panthers couldn’t get the out at the plate, allowing the run to score.
On the next pitch, Brooke Petersen hit one into the gap in left-center field, as both Josie and Jami Sickels dropped down in an attempt to catch the ball. The two twins collided and the ball fell to the ground after appearing to be in Jami’s glove, allowing two more runs to score.
Carroll pushed three more runs across in the inning, scoring a total of six runs on five hits in the inning.
“We make that great stop (at third) and maybe have a little more time than what we thought to get up and make the play,” Creston head coach Mike McCabe said. “We get that force at the plate and it’s two down and we might get out of there with a run or something. We kind of turned an inning there where we got the leadoff out and I just wish we could have gotten that out at the plate and it could have been a different story.”
One bad inning has been a theme of late for the Panthers, McCabe said. Creston had similar situations in losses to Atlantic and Harlan.
“That inning just happened so fast,” he said. “It was like how did that happen? And yet, it was one that maybe could have been completely different with one little thing.”
“We felt like we kind of gave them one in the first inning and just had to play from behind,” Carroll head coach Tom Borchers said. “The first four innings, I think we stranded four or five runners and I got a little upset going to the fifth coming in and I chewed on them a little bit. Girls came through.”
Creston scrapped its way to an early lead in the game, scoring in the top of the first inning.
After one out, Taylor Briley blasted a double to right field and moved to third on a passed ball.
Haylee LaMasters drew a four-pitch walk and on a first-and-third situation, took off for second base on a steal attempt.
LaMasters was thrown out, but it gave Briley the opportunity to scamper home, putting the first run on the board.
The Panthers added their second run in the top of the fifth inning when Jami Sickels led off with a walk and moved to second on a Baker sacrifice bunt.
After Sickels took third on a passed ball, Nicole Haley grounded a 3-2 pitch to second base, allowing Sickels to score.
“I was tickled to death when we got that second run when Nicole got a ball in play for us with a runner on to the right side and got that 2-0 lead,” McCabe said. “I was just hoping we could get through that fifth inning.”
Creston finishes its season with a record of 19-17 and loses just one senior in Mackenzie Andreasen, making for a promising future.
“We had a lot of young kids get some experience this year,” McCabe said. “We talked about how there were a lot of things we had to go through before we could be a good team, and we obviously got to deal with a lot of those things this year. We’ll get better and have high expectations like always. They’re a great group of kids.”
Carroll improved to 16-16 and will advance to take on Dallas Center-Grimes in Dallas Center at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Carroll 7, Creston 2
R H E
Creston 100 010 0 — 2 3 1
Carroll 000 061 x — 7 10 1
Haylee LaMasters 5K 6BB and Natalie Mostek. Lauren Janning 2K 5BB and Elyse Borchers. W — Janning. L— Borchers. HR — none. 3B — none. 2B — Cr: Taylor Briley 1. Car: Haley Stevens 1. RBI — Cr: Nicole Haley 1. Car: Brooke Petersen 2, Brittany Bauman 2, Stevens 1, Borchers 1. Multiple hitters — Cr: Briley 2. Car: Petersen 3, Cassie Evers 2, Bauman 2.