By Doug Brenneman, JOURNAL Sports
It is not often a team hits two multiple-run homers in a high school softball game and loses, but Mount Pleasant did that and lost 8-5 to the Demons Thursday in Washington. The Demons won the second game as well, not allowing any runs until two scored in the seventh inning for a 7-2 victory.
?We just did not hit the ball well enough and gave up too many runs,? MP coach Troy Mears said. ?Our ace pitcher is out but that is not an excuse. We have other pitchers who can throw. It also takes a big bat out of our lineup and the morale is kind of down without her. But we are a team that is young and we have to find a way to fight through it. As long as they battle, that?s all I can ask for. That gives us a shot, but this definitely did not help our conference situation.?
The sweep puts Washington at 8-6 in the Southeast Conference while the Panthers fall to 6-8. Keokuk is 7-5 and Fairfield is 6-6. Fort Madison is 5-7. Keokuk and Fairfield were to play Thursday but rescheduled to July 3.
After the game got started late due to rain earlier in the day, the Demons scored twice in the bottom of the first inning on Megan Mitchell?s single and Cara Linnenkamp?s bases-loaded walk.
The Panthers tied it at 2-2 when Makayla Cam poked a two-run home run in the top of the third inning.
Haylee Wilson led off the Demons? fourth inning with a single and scored on Kellie Dallmeyer?s double. Dallmeyer scored on Alexa Mitchell?s sacrifice fly for a 4-2 lead.
It was 6-2 when Kinsey Duwa drew a bases-loaded walk after falling behind in the count 0-2 and Dallmeyer?s sacrifice fly scored a run in the fifth inning. Megan Mitchell?s sixth-inning double scored Alexa Mitchell, who had singled. Molly Sparks singled, then with runners on the corners, the Demons executed a double steal and Megan Mitchell scored for the 8-2 advantage.
Trinity Krabill slammed a three-run dinger in the seventh inning for Mount Pleasant.
?Giving up those home runs, it was just two pitches, so we will take that,? Washington coach Ben Obermann said. ?The first one that went out, it was a curveball low and away. The next one was up and in on her hands.?
Sparks got the win for Washington. She gave up eight hits with one walk and one strikeout. Chi Glaha took the loss. Washington had 10 hits in the game.
The Demons sent all nine batters to the plate in the first inning of the second game for a 3-0 lead. Alexa Mitchell, Linnenkamp and Brinning had hits. Sparks had a run-scoring sacrifice fly. Alexa and Linnenkamp each had an RBI. Linnenkamp and Dallmeyer each batted in a run with a single in the fifth inning. Sparks singled in a run in the sixth and a run scored on an error for a 7-0 advantage.
Linnenkamp reached base in 7 of her 8 plate appearances and had five singles on the night.
Alexa Mitchell pitched the second game for Washington and struck out two, walked two and allowed eight hits.
Catcher Kaitlyn Mitchell threw out a runner trying to steal second in the first inning. Morgan Brinning at shortstop made some stellar plays on ground balls. Duwa ran down a ball hit over her head, snagging the catch over her shoulder.
?Our defense is playing great and that was what was holding us back earlier in the season,? Obermann said.
The Demons did not commit an error in the field in either game.
?Defensively I don?t think we could?ve played any better and offensively, we had a great approach,? Obermann said. ?If you are going to play errorless softball and your pitchers are going to attack the strike zone, you are going to give yourself a chance to win a lot of games.?
The Panthers had three consecutive hits in the seventh inning, but with two outs, Brinning went to field a grounder and was interfered with, thus creating the third out, which ended the game. It was a similar scenario to Monday?s first-inning collision.
?It seems like that usually happens at least once a game,? Brinning said. ?It ended the game so it was good. I?m glad to take one for the team, I guess.?
?Morgan is the tank,? Obermann said. ?We have been calling her that since she sprained her ankle a couple of weeks ago. She is a tough kid.?
Washington is 14-19 overall while Mount Pleasant is 13-19.
Washington plays at Williamsburg today.
?Tuesday, we play Fort Madison and if we sweep, we can win 10 conference games and that?s awesome,? Obermann said. ?If we can win the conference with that total, that would be sweet.?
A conference title might be sweet but the more important games start when the second season begins.
?That?s what we are trying to teach the girls,? Obermann said. ?We are focusing on each game and we want to be playing our best softball July 5.?
That will be at Clear Creek-Amana to start the postseason.