The Edgewood-Colesburg Vikings continued their dominance of the Maquoketa Valley Wildcats on the softball field this season as they easily swept their Tri-Rivers Conference doubleheader, 8-0 and 17-0, in Colesburg June 26.
Game one was a tightly contested match until Riley Preuss, Kelsey Hansel and Sophia Wilson scored for the Vikings in the bottom of the fourth inning to take a 3-0 lead. Ed-Co scored four more times in the bottom of the fifth to take command of the game as they backed up the one-hit pitching performance by Liz Meisner on their way to an 8-0 win. Meisner went the distance to get her fourth complete-game shutout of the year as she struck out three and walked three while improving to 10-7.
It was all Vikings in game two as nine different girls crossed the plate in Ed-Co’s 17-0 win. Annie Hoffman didn’t allow a hit in the three-inning game, but did give up a walk and struck out three. With the win, Hoffman’s record is now 8-4.
Add in the Vikings’ 11-2 thumping of the Wildcats at the West Delaware Tournament two weeks earlier and the Vikings have won all three meetings with their rival this year.
“It’s fun coaching them when they all pull together with their bats, when they are loud in the dugout and they get excited about it,” said Tracy Schrader, head coach of the Vikings. “When they have fun in the dugout it’s hard for us not to be successful with the bats and when we play solid defense we are hard to beat.”
“Staying on top when you are ahead and wanting it even more, Ed-Co did a great job of that. They did their job so congratulations to them,” said Macey Kintzle, first-year head coach of the Wildcats. “We need to do a better job of bringing the energy and not waiting for things to happen.”
Many good things went the Vikings’ way in these two games, but it wasn’t because they were waiting for good things to happen or because they got lucky. The good things happened because the Vikings have been working hard to play better and to be better on the softball field.
“We’ve been working on a lot of things, but one area we have been focusing on is base running. It’s such an important part of the game and you don’t have to be the fastest person on the team to be good at it as long as you are smart,” said Schrader. “Whenever there is an extra base to be had, I want them to take it. We might get out here and there because we’re aggressive, but I’m OK with that as long as they learn from their mistake and get better at it.”
Her Vikings had many chances to take extra bases as they collected 18 hits and six walks in the two games, not counting all the other difficult balls they made the Wildcats field because of the hard contact they kept making with the bats.
Rylie Aldrich suffered the loss in game one giving up eight runs, just two earned. She walked one and struck out three. Allie Knipper took the loss in game two surrendering eight hits, 17 runs and four walks.
Meisner was also one of the offensive leaders for the Vikings having four hits and two RBIs on the night. Pruess chipped in with three hits and four RBIs while Hansel had three hits and one RBI, MacKenzie Schmitz and Lily Aulwes had two hits and drove in three runs.
Leah Ries had the only hit of the night for the Wildcats.
“We really struggled tonight,” said Kintzle who had to coach on three consecutive nights for the first time this season. “Playing that many games got to us. It was tough and then we couldn’t get the bats going. It’s hard to play this game when you are having trouble making solid contact.”
Defense was also an issue for the Wildcats as Kintzle played around with her defensive alignment even though her team had won three of its last four games going into the match-up. Edgewood-Colesburg was also hot winning 10 of their last 13 games.
Kintzle rolled the dice on her defensive moves because the Wildcats were playing without Payton Beaman, the team’s starting shortstop and one of three starting pitchers the team has been using this season. She wasn’t available because she rolled her ankle scoring a run earlier in the week.
In an attempt to give some girls an opportunity to step up and gain experience playing different position, Kintzle moved Taya Tucker from centerfield to behind the plate, Leah Ries went from catcher to right field, Knipper switched from left field to center field, Carissa Sabers filled Beaman’s shoes at shortstop and Karissa Hillers patrolled left field.
“She’s a huge leader for our team and does what she can from the dugout, but not having her on the field either pitching or playing shortstop hurt us, and we really missed her bat and as a baserunner,” said Kintzle about Beaman. “We’re just hoping that with some rest that she’ll be back playing with us before the season is over.”
The Vikings are playing some of their best softball of the season right now. A lot of it has to do with their defense and a lot of it has to do with how they are accepting the team first attitude that Schrader preaches.
“It’s so important that we play for each other. There is no I in team here at Ed-Co, so they have to play together, for the pitcher and for the person next to them,” said Schrader. “We focus on one out at a time which helps us not look at the whole game but allows us to break the game down to win one out at a time and one inning at a time.”
“It was a tough day. It’s so easy to stick together as a team when things are going your way, but you need to lean on each other the most when you’re in situations like this. You have to help your pitcher out by making the routine play to get the out and get us closer to getting off the field,” said Kintzle. “Our young girls are learning that mistakes will happen, but all they can do about it is to get ready to make the next play or be ready to hit the ball hard when in the batter’s box.”