GLADBROOK - Five members of the BCLUW softball team spent the first half of their careers winning NICL West Division championships, until last year's shared title was one game out of their reach.
Those same five seniors have kept the Comets playing one game at a time, and Thursday's win over Gladbrook-Reinbeck brought a piece of that conference crown back to Conrad.
Class 2A No. 13 BCLUW blanked the host Rebels 7-0 in Thursday's league finale, getting a two-hitter from sophomore pitcher Nicolette Simpson and half of the team's eight hits going for extra bases.
T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE
BCLUW sophomore Nicolette Simpson delivers a pitch during Thursday’s NICL West Division softball game against Gladbrook-Reinbeck in Gladbrook. Simpson tossed a two-hitter and the Comets defeated the Rebels 7-0.
It also marked the 10th win in 11 games for the Comets (25-9, 13-1), who will share the NICL West title with East Marshall after the 3A No. 5 Mustangs ousted Grundy Center, 13-2.
BCLUW had won four straight conference crowns until East Marshall and West Marshall split it last season. The Comets, who lost 11-0 to East Marshall in their first meeting this season, avenged that defeat earlier this week.
"I'm just really proud of the kids because after the way we got beat by (East Marshall) the first time we could have ended up losing something before we got to them the second time," said BCLUW head coach David Lee. "The seniors just regrouped the team and brought them together and said we've got to make sure we take this to the next ballgame and give ourselves a chance, and we did and we made the most out of that Monday night."
Thursday's triumph over Gladbrook-Reinbeck (10-16, 6-8) was the third league win this week for the Comets. Simpson (16-7) struck out four and walked two, allowing a fourth-inning single to Kayla Holbach and a sixth-inning double off the fence for Paige Thompson.
BCLUW scored twice before Simpson even took to the circle, getting back-to-back doubles to start the game from Sarah McCoy and Courtney Amundson. Abby Miller's groundout plated Amundson for the 2-0 lead.
Doubles by Jessica deNeui and Mallory Vawter made it 3-0 in the second, and Vawter's two-run single in the fourth upped the margin to 5-0. Danielle Montgomery's two-out, two-run chopper through the middle plated Miller and Maddie Olson for the final Comet tallies in the fifth.
Miller, Montgomery and Vawter finished with two hits apiece to lead BCLUW at the plate. Simpson's pitching performance was her third complete game of limiting the opponent to two hits or fewer.
The Rebels missed their chances to score when leadoff batter Emily Snider was walked in the fourth and the sixth. Snider got the stop sign at third on Holbach's hit and the throw came in wide of home plate. Snider was caught stealing moments before Thompson drove a double off the fence in left-center field.
G-R could earn the chance to face BCLUW with a first-round win over Wapsie Valley in Tuesday's regional opener in Gladbrook.
"The girls are trying their best, that's all you can ask," said Rebels head coach Brian Thompson. "We're taking our lumps here and there but their attitude is probably one of the best ones we've had. They have every right to be down in the dumps and they're not, we just keep plugging away and try to pick our battles."
The injury-plagued Rebels had four varsity players not in uniform with only four reserves available on the bench.
"So we're going to get a big swimming pool and fill it full of ice and try and get some kids healthy, because even some of the ones that are playing are still hurt," Thompson added.
BCLUW is off until Tuesday's regular-season finale, a doubleheader at 4A No. 13 Charles City.
"We're looking ahead to the next ballgame and we talk about that, we're going to methodically do what we do and there's no reason to get overly excited," said Lee. "If you get that ultimate goal, then there is, but to this point right here we're just trying to play one ballgame and get ready for the next ballgame."
East Marshall 13, Grundy Center 2, 5 innings
LE GRAND - Haley Long tossed a four-hitter and the Class 3A No. 5 East Marshall softball team rattled off a 13-2 victory over Grundy Center on Thursday to clinch a share of the NICL West title for the second year in a row.
The Mustangs (25-4, 13-1) shared the conference title with BCLUW after the two teams split the regular season series.
East Marshall charted eight runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to finish off the blowout.
Long struck out four and walked none in the win. Chelsea Whitmore, Taylor Fricke and Katie Roseland had two hits apiece to lead East Marshall. Whitmore doubled twice and drove in two, while Roseland doubled once and plated three.
Alyssa Whitmore drove in two runs while Paige Miller, Karly Long and Abby Nuese each scored two runs for the Mustangs.
East Marshall remains in action on Saturday with a trip to the Nevada Tournament, opening with a 9 a.m. game against Des Moines North.
West Marshall 7, South Tama 6
STATE CENTER - Jennifer Davis drove a bases-loaded double to plate all three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, finishing off West Marshall's four-run rally for a walk-off win over South Tama, 7-6, on Thursday night.
Freshman Libby Davenport led off the bottom of the seventh with a single to spark West Marshall's comeback from a 6-3 deficit.
McKenna Hotopp went 1-for-4 with a double, an RBI and a run scored, while Emily Durlin was 1-for-4 with an RBI. Sadie Simatovich scored twice for the Trojans (14-18, 6-8), who are off until hosting South Hardin next Tuesday in the opening round of regional play.
Don Bosco 15, GMG 0, 4 innings
GREEN MOUNTAIN - Class 1A No. 6 Don Bosco won for the 11th time in 12 games behind Karli Welter's no-hitter in a 15-0, four-inning victory over GMG in Thursday's Iowa Star Conference tilt.
Welter also had two hits for the Dons (22-5, 13-0), who scored at least two runs in each inning.
Abby Kulhavy took the loss for GMG (7-14, 7-7), which opens 1A regional play Monday night at Belle Plaine.