SHERRARD -- A former assistant coach for the Alleman softball program, Mike DeLoose knew exactly what his Sherrard Tigers were up against Wednesday afternoon.|
In the first inning at the Joel Brunsvold Sports Complex, the Pioneers flexed their muscle by sending 10 batters to the plate and scoring six runs, and Sherrard could not recover as it dropped an 8-2 nonconference decision.
"It was really tough,'' said DeLoose, whose club is 1-1, "because most of Alleman's girls, I'd taught and worked with when they were younger. They're a good team with good kids, so we knew we had a tough game coming in.''
The game started on an auspicious note when leadoff batter Chasney Jenkins reached on an error. Two batters later, Izzy Anderson singled in Jenkins. Before the opening frame was finished, Mackenzie Sanchez and Abbey Johnson had driven in runs, and Lexi Ferrari closed the uprising with a two-run single.
"We know Sherrard is good, and we wanted to come out and play hard, with a lot of energy,'' said Anderson, who capped her 2-for-4 day with an RBI triple in the Pioneers' two-run sixth inning. "Our first two hitters, Chasney Jenkins and Anna Wetherell (2-for-4), got us started, and everyone followed them.''
That six-run liftoff proved to be plenty for Alleman pitcher Avery Nelson, who went the distance to improve to 3-1 as the Pioneers won for the fourth time in five games. Giving up just two runs -- the first on Riley Strandgard's leadoff home run in the second inning -- Nelson scattered six hits, walked one and struck out five.
"Avery did a good job,'' said Alleman coach Mike Ebner, "and our approach at the plate has been good. We scored three runs in our first game; since then, we've scored 12, 24 and 13 runs, and eight (Wednesday). We'd been hitting the ball well, and we kept doing what we'd been doing.''
Down 6-1 going into the bottom of the fourth, the Tigers looked primed to cut deep into Alleman's five-run lead when Tori Redpath singled to start the inning and Jaryn Kinder worked Nelson for a walk. But after a pair of fielder's choices, Nelson retired Ashlynn Hawotte to end the threat.
That was the last time Sherrard got a runner in scoring position until the bottom of the seventh, when Jordan Hutton's RBI single capped her 2-for-3 day at the plate.
"We just need to work on some things to get ourselves ready, having not been outside much,'' said DeLoose, who earned his first win as coach of the 2012 Class 4A state fourth-place finishers with a 12-2 Monday win at Mercer County. "We're real close. We just need a bit more work, and to get everybody feeling comfortable with each other.''