Adams Central scored 18 runs in its opening game of the Class B, Subdistrict 8 tournament at Smith Softball Complex Monday night.
The crooked number was plenty to get by No. 2-seeded Northwest, which mustered six runs in the game.
But the Patriots’ offense couldn’t get enough going at the plate or play the type of defense they need to in the nightcap, the winner’s bracket final against No. 1 seed Hastings.
The Tigers defeated their crosstown rival 9-4, and advanced to the tournament final 4 p.m. Tuesday where they will have to be beaten by either Northwest or Adams Central twice. The Vikings and Patriots play in an elimination game at 2 p.m.
The Patriots hit five home runs in their first game of the day, but finished with just six total hits against Elle Douglas; only one was of the extra base variety — a fourth inning RBI triple by Savannah Harper that scored Jersie Frerichs.
“(Douglas) pitched well,” AC head coach Tim Marker said. “She moved the ball around, had pretty good control. She pitched a good game and kept us off balance. The game got a little bit colder as it went on which makes it tougher on your batters, but Elle did a nice job. We had some opportunities, but we just didn’t play well enough defensively to let them get out and gain a lot of confidence. That’s what let us down.”
The big kicker for the Patriots, and the one that transferred all the momentum to the Hastings dugout, was when the Tigers smashed back-to-back-to-back home runs in the third inning.
In a span of six pitches, Ellie McCoy, Kaelan Schultz, and Faith Molina all sent softballs deep into the night sky. McCoy’s was a two-run shot, the others were solo shots and gave Hastings a 4-1 lead.
“I think it had a huge contribution,” Hastings head coach Ashley Speak said. “Our offense has kind of been stagnant over the last couple of weeks. So we really needed it. It got us going and kept us going at that point in time.”
Marker said: “Against a team like (Hastings), that’s good offensively, you’re going to see some home runs...It didn’t really get us down, we battled back, had some opportunities, but they made some good plays.”
Frerichs, who started in the circle for AC, was swapped for Sadie Carpenter to start the fourth, but the Tigers tacked on two more that inning. A bases loaded walk drawn by Schultz scored Sophie Cerveny, who led off the inning with a single. Sammy Schmidt, who reached on an error in deep right field later scored on a fielder’s choice by Douglas.
The Tigers brought in three more in the fifth, after the Patriots brought Frerichs back to the circle. Cerveny hit an RBI double to right center that scored Delaney Mullen. Then a fielder’s choice by Schultz that turned heads and caused debate scored Cerveny before an error brought in Schmidt to make it 9-3.
Schultz grounded the ball to third base with two outs in the inning and runners on second and third, but not first. The AC third baseman stepped on third base shortly after she fielded it, and then threw across the diamond to first.
The obvious issues were, there was no force play at third, and there were already two outs, so had the ball just been thrown across the diamond immediately after it was fielded, the out more than likely would have been recorded and inning over, but Schultz beat the throw to the bag, and a run scored.
Although that particular play wasn’t an error, the Patriots defense caused many of the team’s problems Monday. AC committed five errors in the first game against Northwest, and made three against the Tigers.
“You make a good pitch and you get a ball where you can get an out, you want to get it,” Marker said.
Frerichs retired six of the last seven hitters she faced, but her offense couldn’t build any sizable rally against the Tigers.
A leadoff single in the sixth was wasted by AC. Then the Patriots put their first three batters of the seventh on in their last-ditch effort to force extras or walk it off.
Maggie Buhr led off with a walk, then a hard-hit ball to short turned into an error, followed by an RBI single by Shaylee Reed. Speak brought on Faith Molina to close the game and she retired the next three in order after finding her feel.
Despite the end result of AC’s second game, Marker was satisfied with how his team battled all day.
“We’ve seen some tough pitchers and so we’ve had some good battles and it’s all kind of paid off where we have more confidence coming to the plate,” Marker said.
The Patriots still have an outside chance at a district final should they not win the subdistrict. It’ll certainly be a challenge, and it starts with the elimination game and the Vikings.
“We start over, 0-0. We’ll see how things go,” Marker said. “Hopefully we can hit the ball well and keep things going.”
The Tigers are in better shape, sitting seventh in wild card points, and at 2-0 in the B-8 subdistrict.
Hastings, which had a coaching change midseason when Pete Theoharis stepped down from his post and handed the keys to Speak, has had to refocus on the field.
“We’ve definitely had to channel our energy here a little bit,” Speak said. “We’ve had our ups and downs but I think we’re peaking at the right time.
“We’ve gotten away from our brand of softball the last couple of weeks but we’ve found it again. We’re playing Tiger softball.”
Hastings handled its business in the first game of the day, winning via mercy rule 13-1 over St. Paul.
The Tigers piled up 10 hits in just 2 2/3 innings. Douglas earned the win in the circle and also produced the winning hit — a single through the left side that brought home Schmidt.
AC got three homers from Carpenter against Northwest. Buhr and Elli Marker also cleared the wall in that game.
The Vikings survived St. Paul 13-9 to stave off elimination.