The Creston softball team polished off the 2014 edition of the home John Stephens Softball Classic here Saturday with an 11-1 win over Treynor, pulling the Panthers to an even 2-2 for the weekend.
Creston split its games on both days of the two-day tournament, beating Griswold and losing to Ankeny on Friday, before losing to Bondurant-Farrar and topping Treynor on Saturday.
The Panthers now stand 8-6 for the season with a conference mark of 5-3, as they head into a busy week of Hawkeye 10 games.
The final game of the John Stephens Softball Classic was a game to remember for Creston sophomore Jami Sickels.
Sickels won Player of the Game honors by going 2-for-2 at the plate with a double, a three-run home run to left field and five total runs batted in.
In Creston's four games over the weekend, Sickels finished 6-11 with six runs scored and five RBI.
"A big ballgame from Jami down there," Creston head coach Mike McCabe said. "She's hitting the heck out of the ball, having a great sophomore year for us. We were kind of kidding, I told her 'Don't get too excited, it was a 50 mile per hour wind!' It was a good way to end the night."
It punctuated a solid game overall for the Panthers.
Junior pitcher Haylee LaMasters allowed just two hits to the Cardinals while walking three and striking out none.
Natalie Mostek, Shelby Palser and Alyssa Higgins all drove in one run in the win.
The Panthers lost a pair of 6-2 games to strong teams from Ankeny and Bondurant-Farrar, which is ranked second in Class 3A.
Still, McCabe was proud of the way his team battled in those losses.
"Against Ankeny, I was pleased with the way we competed and played," he said. "I think we had six hits, but also had five errors. A little disappointed in a couple of things we didn't handle and react to. That's why you play teams like that, so that you get in those situations."
LaMasters walked one with no strikeouts in the Ankeny loss, giving up seven hits. Higgins drove in both runs for Creston, earning Player of the Game honors.
"All in all, I thought Haylee threw well against a good-hitting ballclub," McCabe said. "Hopefully you get better by playing those types of people."
The Panthers suffered a similar fate in the 6-2 loss to defending Class 3A state champion Bondurant-Farrar.
Josie Sickels drove in both runs for the Panthers, finishing 2-4 for the game and winning Player of the Game honors.
LaMasters took the loss in the circle, pitching four innings and giving up four runs on seven hits with two walks and one strikeout. Taylor Briley pitched two innings of relief, allowing two runs on three hits.
"I thought we battled pretty good against a good team," McCabe said. "Right now, our problem is we give teams too many outs. Too many outs and too many free bases, whether it's on balls that get by us behind the plate or walks. We give up too many free bases. We've got to clean that up and that would make a big difference for us, especially against good teams."
The Panthers opened their home tournament Friday morning against Griswold, and came out sluggish after a long roadtrip the night before.
Griswold took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, and after the Panthers knotted the score, made it 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning.
"I worried a little bit coming off, we get back late last night playing a doubleheader," McCabe said. "I thought we were a little flat. Learned a good lesson. It just shows you you're only as good as your next game."
But, Natalie Mostek kickstarted Panther rallies in the top of the sixth and seventh innings.
Mostek led off both innings with a single. Creston scored five runs in the top of the sixth to take a 6-2 lead and added three more in the top of the seventh to go ahead 9-2. Griswold added two more in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Higgins and Briley each drove in one run in the sixth inning, while Alli Thomsen plated two in the seventh. LaMasters also had an RBI in the game.
Mostek earned Player of the Game honors for starting the rallies. LaMasters struck out five and walked two, giving up eight hits in the win.
"We couldn't get anything going for a good portion of the game," McCabe said. "But give the kids credit, they stuck with it and got that big sixth inning there. Found a way to get it done."
The Panthers now start a week that includes four conference games and a trip to Oskaloosa for tournament play on the weekend.
Creston hosts Red Oak today, with varsity action beginning at 5:30 p.m., with junior varsity to follow. The Panthers then host Glenwood Tuesday, with JV at 5:30 and varsity to follow.
Tuesday's game will feature events in conjunction with Relay for Life. Luminaries will be sold at the game and Di Miller will throw out the first pitch.
John Stephens Softball Classic
(Player of the Game)
Friday — Griswold 8 (Jackie Rush), Atlantic 4 (Ally Anderson); Creston 9 (Natalie Mostek), Griswold 4 (Alyx Flippin); Bondurant-Farrar 13 (Emily Wilson), Atlantic 0 (Erin Olsen); Bondurant-Farrar 7 (Erin Handley), Sioux City Bishop Heelan 2 (Jaylee Lester); Ankeny 12 (Olivia Brooks), Sioux City Bishop Heelan 2 (Jenna Bork); Ankeny 6 (Olivia Parker), Creston 2 (Alyssa Higgins).
Panther Field — Atlantic 9 (Mollee Welter), Sioux City Bishop Heelan 6 (Jenna Bork); Bondurant-Farrar 9 (Katie Norton), Nodaway Valley 0 (Christine Gross); Bondurant-Farrar 6 (Sydney Carroll), Creston 2 (Josie Sickels); Sioux City Bishop Heelan 7 (Bailey Heaton), Treynor 2 (Lexi Killinger); Creston 11 (Jami Sickels), Treynor 1 (Laura Hempel).
Southwestern — Griswold 6, Nodaway Valley 5; Mount Ayr 12, Clarinda 5; Atlantic 11, Mount Ayr 0; Sioux City Bishop Heelan 14, Clarinda 0.
Creston 9, Griswold 4
R H E
Creston 001 005 3 — 9 9 3
Griswold 100 010 2 — 4 8 1
Haylee LaMasters 2BB 5K and Natalie Mostek. Brooke Hansen 5BB 1K and Mandi Backhaus. W — LaMasters. L— Hansen. HR — none. 3B — none. 2B — Cr: LaMasters 1, Alli Thomsen 1. G: Backhaus 1. RBI — Cr: Thomsen 2, Taylor Briley 1, LaMasters 1, Alyssa Higgins 1. G: Alyx Flippin 2, Hansen 1. Multiple hitters — Cr: LaMasters 2, Mostek 2. G: Jackie Rush 3, Hansen 3.
Ankeny 6, Creston 2
R H E
Creston 000 020 0 — 2 6 5
Ankeny 021 102 x — 6 7 0
Haylee LaMasters 1BB 0K and Natalie Mostek. Sophie Buttjer 1BB 5K and Sydney Christman. W — Buttjer. L— LaMasters. HR — A: Olivia Parker 1. 3B — A: Taylor Steinfeldt 1. 2B — Cr: Alyssa Higgins 1. A: Christman. RBI — Cr: Higgins 2. A: Parker 2, Jessica Hensley 1, Peyton Daugherty 1. Multiple hitters — A: Parker 2, Daugherty 2.
Bondurant-Farrar 6, Creston 2
R H E
Creston 000 010 1 — 2 9 2
B-F 013 002 0 — 6 10 3
Haylee LaMasters 2BB 1K, Taylor Briley (5) 0BB 0K and Natalie Mostek. Keely Bycroft 0BB 3K and Annika Ekstam. W — Bycroft. L— LaMasters. HR — none. 3B — none. 2B — Cr: LaMasters 2, Jami Sickels 1. BF: Sydney Carroll 2, Bycroft 2. RBI — Cr: Josie Sickels 2. BF: Carroll 2, Ashley Burrows 1, Ekstam 1, Bycroft 1, Kinzie Peters 1. Multiple hitters — Cr: Josie Sickels 2, Jami Sickels 2, Alyssa Higgins 2. BF: Bycroft 2, Carroll 2.
Creston 11, Treynor 1
R H E
Treynor 001 00 — 1 2 1
Creston 303 5x — 11 7 2
McKenna Waffle 8BB 1K and Madeline Deitchler. Haylee LaMasters 3BB 0K and Natalie Mostek. W — LaMasters. L— Waffle. HR — Cr: Jami Sickels 1. 3B — none. 2B — none. RBI — T: Laura Hempel 1. Cr: Jami Sickels 5, Mostek 1, Shelby Palser 1, Alyssa Higgins 1. Multiple hitters — Cr: Jami Sickels 2.