CONRAD - Often the NICL West Division softball championship has come down to who gets the upper-hand in the rivalry between BCLUW and East Marshall.
On Monday it was the Comets' turn to shine.
Class 2A No. 13 BCLUW claimed a 7-1 victory over the Class 3A No. 5 Mustangs to create a tie for first place with the league race in its final week.
T-R PHOTO BY MARK PAWLAK
BCLUW pitcher Olivia Callaway throws to first for the out after fielding a ground ball in the Comets’ 7-1 victory over East Marshall on Monday in Conrad. BCLUW moved into a tie with the Mustangs for first place in the NICL West Division standings.
Olivia Callaway threw six strong innings in the circle for the Comets (22-9, 11-1), while Danielle Montgomery led the bats with a 3-for-3 night.
East Marshall (23-4, 11-1) was hurt by allowing a five-run inning and could not get its high-powered offense into gear.
"Us and East Marshall is a rivalry no matter how you cut it, even if we're playing for fourth place, but we don't do that very often," said BCLUW head coach David Lee. "Most of the time we play for first place. Down through the years that's how it's been, we've played for conference titles, year-in and year-out."
The remainder of the conference schedule for BCLUW has trips to South Tama tonight and to Gladbrook-Reinbeck on Thursday. East Marshall's final league games are in Le Grand with contests against West Marshall tonight and Grundy Center on Thursday.
"We wanted to win the conference outright," said East Marshall head coach Jary Hoskey. "Now we've got to fight like heck to tie."
The Mustangs won the first meeting between the two rivals 11-0 behind 15 hits and this go-round were stopped by Callaway. The eighth-grader allowed one run on six hits. She did not walk a batter and struck out four.
"She changed speeds well and was hitting her spots," Lee said, "and was doing it against a good club."
Nicolette Simpson had a 1-2-3 seventh inning in relief.
"You've got to give (BCLUW) credit," Hoskey said. "They got excellent pitching, we'd never seen Callaway before and she hand-cuffed us for a few innings."
"We need to regroup," he added. "There's a big game (tonight)."
Chelsea Whitmore had a single and double for the Mustangs. Doubles by Whitmore and Katie Roseland in the sixth led to the lone run.
"Their pitching shut us down. We had one girl with multiple hits and normally we have three or four girls with multiple hits," Hoskey said.
An error and infield single to start the bottom of the third was the fuel to the Comets' game-changing rally against East Marshall pitcher Haley Long. Sarah McCoy followed with an RBI single to break the scoreless tie, then Courtney Amundson had an RBI double.
BCLUW added two tallies on a wild pitch as Amundson scored from third and Kendall Scurr made it all the way around from second as the throw to the plate to try to get Amundson got away. An RBI single by Jessica deNeui made it 5-0.
The Comets' speed on the bases created another run in the fourth as Haley Veldhouse stole home and a final run in the fifth after a Mustang error.
"We did a lot of things there in the third," Lee said. "We drove the ball, we bunted the ball, we bunt and ran, we took an extra base. Those are the kind of things you have to do in big ball games."
In addition to Montgomery's two singles and a double, Makayla Van Cleave, McCoy and Scurr each added two hits apiece.
"This was playing for a conference title and I thought our kids stepped up," Lee said.