After win streak stopped by Panthers, Comets rebound with DH sweep over Go-Hawks
By John Burbridge
When you have someone or something on the ropes, it’s best to put them or it away ASAP.
History provides plenty of examples of the consequences that come from lack of expedience.
During Friday’s non-conference softball game featuring two ranked teams, the hosting Central Springs Panthers were scratching at the door for a rare stoppage win against the Charles City Comets.
Leading 12-3 in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Panthers had the would-be 13th run at third base with only one out in the inning.
But back-to-back infield flyouts avoided the 10-run rule.
If anything it seemed, that merely extended the game for another half inning. But the Comets went on the rally for 4 runs in the top half of the seventh, and it didn’t look like they were done quite yet.
Comet junior Rachel Chambers, who had earlier hit her team-leading eighth and ninth homers of the season — both moon shots that cleared the left-field fence with a half-acre to spare, was coming up to the plate with two runners on.
Behind Chambers was Ashlyn Hoeft, who had two hard-hit doubles in the game, as well as Ava Ellis, who hit her first home run of her varsity career to put the Comets on the board in the second inning.
With Panthers fans getting a little nervous, Central Springs pitcher Cooper Klaahsen got Chambers to fly out to deep center to cap the 12-7 final for the Class 2A No. 4-ranked Panthers.
The loss ended a six-game winning streak for the Class 4A No. 15-ranked Comets.
* Though Chambers’s two home runs against Central Springs may have been in a losing cause, her next two-dinger game helped the Comets sweep a home doubleheader against Northeast Iowa Conference rival Waverly-Shell Rock the following Monday.
After the Comets won the first game 8-2, they had to battle back from a 2-0 deficit in the second game.
In the bottom of the fifth, Chambers tied it with a 2-run blast over the left-field fence.
The score remained tied going into the bottom of the seventh.
Leadoff hitter Kiki Connell started Charles City’s half with her third single of the game and promptly stole second base — her third theft of the game and fifth of the night.
One out later, Chambers went opposite field for another 2-run homer, capping the sweep with in a 4-2 final.
For Chambers, those were her team-leading 10th and 11th homers of the season.
According to Varsity Bound, only Katelyn Lappe of Bondurant-Farrar has more (14) going into this week’s play.
The sweep improved Charles City’s overall record to 14-4 and 7-0 in the NEIC.
Waverly-Shell Rock fell to 5-11 and 3-6.
In the first game, former Comet Marley Hagerty was engaged in a pitching duel with Charles City senior ace Dani Reetz, matching zeroes through four innings.
But when Sadie Gebel scored Allie Cross on a suicide squeeze bunt to break the scoreless tie in fifth inning, it sparked a decisive 6-run rally.
Ashlyn Hoeft had three hits, Lydia Staudt had two hits, Alex Wohlers had a 2-run double, and Reetz got the complete-game victory while scattering seven hits and yielding 1 earned run in seven innings.
Olivia Litterer started the second game for the Comets, and though she pitched well enough to win while giving up just four hits and 2 earned runs in five innings, Natalie White got the win after pitching two shutout innings in relief.
Arguably, it was Charles City’s best night of the season defensively as the Comets took away numerous hits and didn’t give the Go-Hawks more than one extra out in 14 innings of play.
Some of the Comet web gems included a pair of running catches by left fielder Staudt robbing the Go-Hawks of extra bases; a diving play by second baseman Wohlers on a sinking liner hit by Lilly Stough; an all-out diving catch by catcher Hoeft on a popped-up bunt by Kesley Wheeler; and an excellent recovery by shortstop Chambers, who ranged back for a blooper with eyes hit by Sally Gade, had the ball snowcone out of her outstretched glove before securing the out with her bare hand.