Redhawks end 48-game losing streak, beat the Bolts 11-10
North Tama softball steps up to the plate
In the wake of what had been a 48-game losing streak, the Redhawk softball team ended last week on a high note by welcoming back to the mound injured starting pitcher Addison Hochstetler and beating the Baxter Bolts, 11-10, on Friday, June 10, at home — breaking a three year-long losing record.
Hochstetler briefly returned during Thursday’s game on the road against Vinton-Shellsburg – a game North Tama lost in three innings, 12-0 – but unfortunately, the ankle injury still plagued her some, according to head coach Kodi Hillman.
“[Addison was] feeling much better but she just struggled getting back in the groove,” Hillman said in a text message exchange with the Telegraph.
Even with their starting pitcher back – Hochstetler took over for Briar Blake at the top of the second inning – the game quickly got away from the Redhawks with the Vikings scoring five runs in the first, seven runs in the second, and then a three up, three down on the part of the Vikings in the third to end the game.
“Our bats just did not connect,” Hillman said of Thursday’s game against Vinton-Shellsburg. “We did good things and had some good plays [but] … we struggled to make outs when given to us.”
Friday, however, was a whole different ball game for the young Redhawk team who played the longest game of their season up to this point against Baxter.
North Tama began the final inning still down by one to the Bolts (10-9), but an opening base hit by Lydia Taylor set the tone for the change in narrative that was about to unfold.
With their trademark boisterous cheering section on 11 in the dugout, Kinsley Even hit a hard drive to right field on the second pitch – making it to second and putting Taylor on third.
The Bolts then chose to intentionally walk Blake, loading the bases in the process. A hit to center field by Hochstetler drove in the tying run by Taylor (10-10) but the Bolts managed to tag Even out at home. Hochstetler advanced to second in the chaos.
With runners on second and third, the Bolts again chose to intentionally walk a batter, putting Larissa Morrison on first.
As the sun began to set behind her, freshman Gabby Velasco stepped up to the plate. With one out and bases loaded, Velasco quickly racked up a full count before hitting a second foul ball.
With tension reaching a feverish pitch, the Bolts threw one last ball to walk Velasco – sending Blake home and thereby giving North Tama their first win in over three years to end a 48-game losing streak.
“The girls showed up like I have never seen before,” Hillman said of the Baxter game. “It came down to the bottom of the seventh and we strategized exactly what we needed to do and the girls put all the pieces together. … The energy was incredible and the girls played their hearts out. They didn’t let any mistakes get to them and played the best they could have!”
At-bat, the Redhawks were on fire for the first time this season with Adi Fuller notching three RBIs, Briar, Morrison and Velasco notching two each, and Jacobs and Even notching one each.
On the mound, Blake allowed four hits and six runs in just over one inning pitched – striking out one. Hochstetler – who pitched the remainder of the game – allowed seven hits, four runs, and struck out five.
On the field, notables included Jacobs with four putouts and three assists at catcher, Taylor with three putouts and three assists at shortstop, Blake with nine putouts at first base, and Faith Dvorak with two putouts in the outfield.
Hillman could not have been more proud of her young team following the historical game.
“The feeling after the game was definitely something to remember for a lifetime,” Hillman said. “It was so special for those girls and restored their confidence to go get some more games!”
North Tama entered the week of June 13 with a 1-9 record on the season, facing a busy string of days on the road.
The Redhawks were set to face Don Bosco (8-2) on Monday at home before traveling to South Tama on Tuesday for a JV game (the Trojans are not fielding a varsity team this season) and Riceville on Wednesday.
North Tama will round out the week on Friday in Maxwell against the formidable Class 1A No. 4 Collins-Maxwell Spartans who entered the week undefeated (9-0).
But with the losing streak at last broken, it might be anyone’s ball game now.