A combination of missed opportunities and a controversial call doomed the Marshalltown softball team against West Des Moines Valley on Wednesday night.
The Bobcats stranded 16 runners on base in the double dip at the MHS diamond and Madi Bellile was called out in a close play at first base with two outs in the bottom of the seventh in the opener.
Valley ended up with a 2-1 win in game one and then came back to take game two 6-4.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
MHS senior Madi Bellile, right, throws out West Des Moines Valley’s McKenzie Schuette during the opener of a doubleheader at the MHS diamond. Schuette homered in the second game to put Valley up 1-0 and the Tigers went on to win 6-4 after winning game one 2-1.
"It's hard to tell the kids to do something different when they are hitting the ball hard and it's getting caught," MHS coach Jeff Lamb said. "We just didn't get the breaks tonight."
One of those breaks came in the seventh inning of game one. With the bases loaded and the Bobcats down a run, Bellile was called out at first base to end the game.
Lamb - and many of the Bobcat faithful in the stands - thought the senior third baseman had beaten the throw and tied the game, but the umpire saw it differently.
"If we put ourselves in a better position, we don't have to worry about that stuff," Lamb said. "I thought we were right, and I thought he was wrong. It may have been different. I may have been wrong, but I let him know what I thought and that is all I can do.
"We have got to be in a position where the umpires don't play a part in the game. We don't want them to be the difference in the game. We put ourselves in a bad position and allowed them to make a call that cost us the game."
Bellile had an RBI single in the third as the Bobcats scored first in the opener. But Marshalltown (4-10) also left runners in scoring position in the first, third, fifth and seventh innings.
Emily DeVenney doubled with two outs in the fifth, but the Bobcats couldn't score after Bellile struck out following an intentional walk to Taylor Wagner.
Wagner also was intentionally walked in the seventh with two outs and runners on second and third.
"(Valley coach Tom Bakey) is a really good coach, and I knew that was going to happen," Lamb said of the two Wagner intentional walks. "He knows what he is doing and he knew where to put his players all night long."
Freshman Jasmine Judge allowed nine hits in the opener but worked out of trouble nicely. The only two runs she gave up came in the fourth when Valley scored on an RBI single by Katelyn Strauss and an RBI squeeze bunt by Lexi Merritt.
Lamb said he liked the effort of his two pitchers even though both of them were handed losses.
"Both Lauren and Jasmine are doing really well for us," Lamb said. "Jasmine is a freshman throwing against some big hitters. She is doing outstanding. She is moving the ball around and getting out of jams. Lauren is doing the same thing. You can't take anything away from the pitchers. They did what we asked of them."
The second game remained scoreless until the Tigers (11-8) plated one in the third following a solo homer by McKenzie Schuette. Two errors by Marshalltown and an RBI single from Kirby Chambers put Valley up 3-0 in the fourth.
The Bobcats chipped away though. They plated a run in each of the final four frames.
Cassidy Blackford doubled to begin the fourth and then scored on an RBI hit by Kaley Mead. Morgan Bellile then led of the fifth with a double and was plated by her twin sister Madi on an RBI single.
Valley pushed its advantage back to three in the sixth following a two-run double by Mandi Roemmich.
The first two Bobcats - Quinn Goodman and Lauren Mazour - singled to start the sixth frame and then Megan Major walked with one out. Morgan Bellile knocked in a run with her RBI single and chased Valley starter Rachel Bakey.
Following a strike out from Tiger reliever Kasey Feldt, Wagner came to the plate with the bases loaded but her long fly ball to centerfield was caught to end the threat.
"Days like today, we did what we needed to do, but we just needed a break," Lamb said. "We didn't get it."
The fourth run of the game for Marshalltown came across in the seventh inning. Blackford scored on a Mead RBI single. However, reliever Callie Brown - the game one winner in the circle - recorded the final out for her first save of the year as the Bobcats stranded nine runners in the nightcap.
"We tagged a couple balls in big spots but they were just in the right spots to make the outs," Lamb said. "We maybe made two or three mistakes on the day, and I am OK with that, but they didn't make as many. They were in the right spots in those situations."
Overall, Lamb liked his team's efforts and went as far as saying he got out-coached by the veteran Bakey.
"He had us scouted us pretty good," Lamb said of Bakey. "That's how they beat us. I think we got out-coached today. Maybe in 10 years that won't be the case. He just a really good coach and a better coach than I am right now. There are not many coaches in the state that are as good as he is though. If we lose like this and get out-coached, I am happy for the girls because they did a really good job."
Mazour took the loss in game two for the Bobcats.
Brown allowed seven hits in the opener and earned the win, while Rachel Bakey won the nightcap. Brown's save in the second game was her first of the season.
Lamb argued another call early in the second game when a Valley runner appeared to make contact with Goodman at second base but was not called for obstruction. "He said she didn't make contact, but I disagree with that," Lamb said. "She hit Quinn's glove. But they were probably upset with me at that point." ... The doubleheader sweep helped Valley improve its latest winning streak to four games. The Tigers have won six of their last seven as well. ... Brown is now 6-4 with a sub-2.00 earned run average in the circle for Valley, while Rachel Bakey improved to 5-2 after her win in the second game. ... Marshalltown travels to Boone on Friday. First pitch for the varsity game is scheduled for 7:45 p.m.