It wasn’t looking good early for the Creston softball team here Tuesday night.
In a game to break a tie for third place in the Hawkeye 10 — both teams came in at 6-3 — Glenwood started the game with three hits and a Panther error to take a 2-0 lead.
With senior pitcher Lisa Nebel pitching two shutout innings, the Rams extended their lead to 4-0 in the top of the third inning.
At that point, Creston coach Mike McCabe told his young team that a comeback was possible. At Glenwood on June 2, the Panthers trailed 1-0 early in a 5-1 victory.
“I thought Lisa Nebel was really sharp for them early and they came out of the chute and popped us pretty good that first inning,” McCabe said. “I told the kids, ‘she brought her A game and we’re going to have to step it up a little.’ I told them we’ve been hitting good and we can do this.”
The Panthers struck for five runs in the bottom of the third and broke a 6-6 tie with three runs on four hits in the sixth inning in securing a 9-6 victory.
Nebel had struck out the side in the second inning. The top of the order caught fire with a two-out rally ignited by Taylor Briley, who had a 4-of-4 night at the plate.
Pitcher Haylee LaMasters sent a rocket RBI double to left and scored from third on a wild pitch. Jami Sickels, who finished with three RBI on three hits, tied the game with a two-run single. An overthrow on her steal of third base allowed her to score the go-ahead run for a 5-4 Panther lead.
“I thought honest to God, one of the biggest at-bats of the night, other than some clutch hits to score runs, might have been Alyssa Higgins in that five-run third,” McCabe said. “She didn’t get a hit, but she had about three or four really good cuts in fouling off some pitches. I think everybody thought, OK, we can hit this kid. Then we strung some hits together.
“I was proud of the kids for battling,” McCabe added. “We might not have done that 2 1/2 weeks ago. So, I’d like to think there was growth on that side of it for us.”
LaMasters overcame the rocky start to finish with six strikeouts and two walks to pick up the victory, despite 13 base hits by the Rams. She retired seven of the last eight batters she faced, ending with a running catch in center field by Josie Sickels.
“We were 2-0 a lot early and it’s hard pitching to good hitters when you’re behind in the count,” McCabe said. “Then you kind of have to come over the middle of the plate. Give Glenwood credit, they came out hitting.”
It became a battle of attrition, as there were a total of 25 hits and six errors in the game.
Creston staged the decisive rally in the sixth, right after first baseman Alli Thomsen snared a liner and stepped on first to end a Glenwood threat in the top of the sixth.
Briley— who was 7-of-7 for the night including the JV contest — singled and went to second on a passed ball. Natalie Mostek smoked an RBI double down the third base line to make it 7-6. A groundout moved her to third, and Jami Sickels ripped a one-hop drive off the second baseman for another run. Lexie Little provided some insurance by stroking a deep double to left-center, scoring Jami Sickels, now the team’s leading hitter at .500.
With a three-run cushion, LaMasters retired Glenwood on a comebacker, a strikeout and the flyout to Josie Sickels after Jordyn Hanshaw hit a two-out single.
Glenwood fell to 10-6 overall and 6-4 in the conference. Creston, now 10-6 and 7-3, travels to league-leader and 2013 state qualifier Denison-Schleswig (15-3, 10-0) Thursday for a varsity doubleheader.
“This was a good night for us, to move into third at 7-3,” McCabe said. “Pretty big games at Denison Thursday. They’re undefeated in the conference. It will be fun.”
The game was held in conjunction with activities leading up to Friday night’s Southwest Iowa Relay for Life at Panther Field, which generated nearly $70,000 last year to support the fight against cancer locally. Di Miller, honorary cancer survivor for this year’s event, threw out the first pitch and dedicated luminarias to be lit along the track Friday were sold for donations during the game.
Other Hawkeye 10 scores Tuesday night were Denison-Schleswig 11, Atlantic 6; Shenandoah 12, Red Oak 5; Lewis Central 4, St. Albert 1; and Harlan 12, Kuemper Catholic 3.
Creston rolled past the Glenwood JV, 12-0, in four innings to avenge an earlier 5-4 defeat to the Rams.
“We hit the ball well tonight and Taylor Briley pitched a nice game,” said Creston coach Teri Keeler. “It was a great team effort.”
Taylor Briley was 3-of-3 with a double for Creston (6-2), and pitched the two-hit shutout with three strikeouts and three walks. Jami Sickels had a double and single. Chloe Hagle and Cammy Rutherford each had RBI hits.
Creston 9, Glenwood 6
R H E
Glenwood 202 110 0 — 6 13 4
Creston 005 103 x — 9 12 2
G: Lisa Nebel 7K 3BB and Sara Ingoldsby. Cr: Haylee LaMasters 6K 2BB and Natalie Mostek. W — LaMasters. L— Nebel. 3B — G: Ingoldsby. 2B — G: Bailey Starner; Cr: LaMasters, Lexie Little. RBI — G: Lyndie VanNess 2, Ingoldsby 1, Nebel 1, Starner 1, Molly Dean 1; Cr: Jamie Sickels 3, LaMasters 2, Mostek 1, Little 1. Multiple hitters — G: Ingoldsby 3, M. Starner 2, B. Starner 2, Jordan Hanshaw 2; Cr: Taylor Briley 4, LaMasters 3, Jami Sickels 3.