Strategic base-running, timely hitting, and a health dose of “small ball” helped the Pella softball team earn a season sweep of Knoxville with a 6-2 triumph Friday night.
The Lady Dutch put two quick runs on the board in the first inning, but Knoxville responded in the third with two runs themselves to tie the game. Pella countered with one run in each of the next two innings, then closed the door in the top of the seventh with two more scores to seal the win.
Beyond putting an end to a two-game slide, the win also earned the Lady Dutch at least a share of the Little Hawkeye Conference title. Pella Head Coach Krista DeMeuelanaere said while she’s excited about the accomplishment, she and the team are still hungry for more.
“It’s great to be able to walk off this field and say ‘you know, two years in a row Pella is going to have at least a share of the conference [title],’ and how exciting for these seniors and the underclassmen that have been part of the success for the last two years. It’s just fantastic,”said DeMeulenare. “But we want it [the title] by ourselves. There’s just no question.”
Pella tallied seven hits, but left eight runners stranded on base, as Mandy DeMeulenaere and Mackenzie Anthony each had two hits and six different players accounted for all of the runs on the scoreboard. DeMeulenaere also picked up the win in the pitcher’s circle, allowing Knoxville four hits and no walks with six strikeouts.
Her adversary, Knoxville’s Jessica Stickel, also performed well on the rubber, spreading out six walks and fanning six Pella batters – highlighted by three strikeouts in the second inning.
Four separate players accounted for the Lady Panthers’ four hits, but it was the two-RBI single by Kylee Bishop that gave Knoxville its only runs. However, Head Coach Steph Christner said it was a ground-out before Bishop that made the difference.
“Offensively we did a great job when we scored the two runs. Gretchen Hileman did a great job moving the base-runners to second and third [base] by going to the right side, and then Kylee [Bishop] came up with the hit,” said Christner. “But if Gretchen wouldn’t have moved them over, we wouldn’t have scored two in that inning.”
The game also featured a frightening moment on the field, when Knoxville catcher Taylor Wadle collapsed behind the plate in the fifth inning. After some time in front of the back-stop with medical staff, coaches and family members, she was taken to the hospital by ambulance.
Wadle had missed the previous game due to illness, but it was not known the role that may or may not have played in her falling down behind the plate. No additional information on Wadle’s condition was immediately available, though Coach Christner was optimistic that her catcher would make a quick recovery with some time to rest.
The Pella softball team is now 17-7 overall and 10-3 in the Little Hawkeye Conference, with a chance to wrap up the league crown on Wednesday against South Tama.
Knoxville drops a game to 8-19 overall and finishes conference play with a 4-9 mark. The Lady Panthers will play PCM on Tuesday.