Redhawks softball ends postseason with a loss to Janesville
Season wins bolster young team’s confidence under Coach Hillman
Although the season didn’t end this past Friday with a win for the Redhawks softball team, it certainly ended on a good note with the young North Tama team notching two wins overall this season – thereby ending a multi-season, 48-game losing streak – and a worthy showing against Janesville in postseason play.
While the Redhawks fell to Janesville, 9-2, in the first round of Class 1A postseason play on the road Friday, July 1, head coach Kodi Hillman was proud of her team and their continuing confidence both on the field and at-bat.
“The girls played well and got on base,” Hillman told the Telegraph in a text exchange following the game. “It was a much better game compared to the first time we faced Janesville.”
Earlier in the season, the Redhawks faced the Wildcats at home, losing 20-6. Halving the score discrepancy barely two weeks later on July 1 is certainly a feat to be proud of for the young North Tama team which boasts only one senior on its roster this year – outfielder Andi Dvorak in her third and final year with the Varsity team.
In the first inning against Janesville, the Redhawks managed to score thanks to Briar Blake’s powerful triple to the outfield which knocked in a run.
The Wildcats then answered back in the bottom of the first with a run of their own but the Redhawks managed to keep the score tied for the remainder of the inning.
Starting pitcher Addison Hochstetler, a rising 9th grader this season, pitched the entire six innings the Wildcats were at-bat –striking out three while allowing 10 hits, nine runs, and four walks. Hochstetler also contributed three put-outs while on the mound for the Redhawks.
While North Tama did manage to put runners on base with five hits and five walks, the team more often than not failed to churn the game further with Hillman telling the Telegraph, “[W]e struggled to be smart on the bases and score the runners that we put on.”
At-bat, Blake and Hochstetler each notched one RBI apiece. Hochstetler’s run – the last of the season for the Redhawks – came in the bottom of the fifth with bases loaded following a walk and two batters hit-by-pitches. Hochstetler hit a single, sending another North Tama runner home.
In the sixth and final full inning, North Tama was down by 5 to the Wildcats. Following a painfully quick at-bat in which the Redhawks failed to score and only one of four batters made it to base – on a hit-by-pitch – the bottom of the sixth was all about center fielder Faith Dvorak.
After injuring her knee while sliding in the top of the fourth and displaying a noticeable limp on the sidelines afterwards, Faith appeared back to health in the bottom of the sixth as she caught not one, but two hard flyouts for the first and second outs of the innings. Following the plays, Faith’s smile was clearly visible to those in the Redhawks’ dugout even from the outfield.
But the Wildcats still managed to score twice more that inning, bringing their lead to 9-2 over the Redhawks as North Tama entered the seventh inning for their final at-bat.
No further runs were scored by the Redhawks, sealing the postseason win for Janesville in the top of the seventh.
The trademark positive attitude the Redhawks displayed all season – even during games in which the team was down by 10 to 20 points or more – was again present in the dugout in Janesville. That attitude is something that has not gone unnoticed to Hillman.
“We had a mix of emotions this year,” Hillman told the Telegraph. “[But] they always bounced back with a smile on their face! This year was a very humbling experience as the girls are growing and getting better. The feeling after winning a few games has faith restored in the girls and I cannot wait for next season!”
After two winless seasons in a row, the North Tama softball team ended the 2021-2022 season with a 2-18 record.
With a roster featuring just one senior – Andi Dvorak – and the rest 8th graders, freshman and sophomores, faith in the team’s continued growth next season would certainly be considered a good call.