The South Tama softball team huddled around Chelsea Ahrends at the end of their eight-game week, mirred in a season-worst seven-game losing streak. Yet the head coach smiled, spoke of positives and growth, and looked forward instead of back.
Now if only she could get her squad to do the same.
The Trojans suffered a pair of losses on Saturday at Marshalltown's Bobcat Classic, falling 6-2 to Class 1A No. 6-ranked Lynnville-Sully and then 6-5 to 1A No. 9 Lisbon. It rounded out an 0-4 weekend and a 1-7 week for STC (6-19).
T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE
South Tama County catcher Dani Stubbs, right, stands her ground and tags out Lynnville-Sully courtesy runner Hailey Hood on a play at the plate during the third inning of their game at the Bobcat Softball Classic on Saturday at MCC. The Trojans fell 6-2.
T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE
Five of the losses, mind you, came by five runs or fewer against ranked foes.
Sounds like sunnier days are ahead, Ahrends says.
"I wish we could have gotten one of these today," she said, "but close games against good teams like this makes them excited about softball. And that's hard to do on days like today.
Bobcat Softball Classic 2013
At Marshalltown Community College
Colfax-Mingo 1, South Hardin 0
Lisbon 5, AGWSR 1
BCLUW 4, Roland-Story 2
Marshalltown 9, South Tama County 6
Bondurant-Farrar 13, Marion 3
BCLUW 3, Colfax-Mingo 1, 9 innings
Lisbon 14, South Hardin 1
Bondurant-Farrar 7, Marshalltown 1
Roland-Story 7, South Tama County 4
Marion 7, AGWSR 6
Bondurant-Farrar 1, BCLUW 0
East Marshall 5, Colfax-Mingo 4
Marshalltown 11, South Hardin 0
Lynnville-Sully 6, South Tama 2
AGWSR 4, Roland-Story 3
Bondurant-Farrar 4, Lisbon 0
Marion 4, Colfax-Mingo 3
East Marshall 5, Roland-Story 3
Lisbon 6, South Tama 5
Lynnville-Sully 10, BCLUW 7
Bondurant-Farrar 9, South Hardin 4
Marshalltown 10, AGWSR 1
Marion 8, BCLUW 7
"We played eight games this week, and you've got to play the best to be the best. We played Lynnville-Sully last year and they killed us."
"We're starting to do the little things, but we always have one bad inning. It makes it fun, working to get better, but now we need to put it all together."
STC nearly saw the fruits of its labor pay off on Saturday, as the Trojans were tied 2-all with Lynnville-Sully (24-4) before the Hawks broke free with a run in the fourth and three more in the fifth. L-S notched an unearned run moments after play resumed from a lightning delay, and consecutive walks issued by STC freshman hurler Kallie Hala opened the Hawks' three-run fifth. A two-run single by Jade Van Rees was the biggest blow to the Trojans' chances.
Hala (1-8) struck out four and walked a total of three in the loss, with three of the six runs coming earned.
The bulk of South Tama's offense came with four of its seven hits in the two-run third. Singles by Riley Craun and Tori Appelgate preceded a double by Jade Rohach, but not before Craun was caught off third. Sam Holtz followed with a run-scoring single, one of her team-leading two hits in the game.
Madison Baack and Hala also had hits in the loss.
Lisbon 6, South Tama 5
In their finale, South Tama snatched a shortlived 3-1 lead with two runs in the bottom of the fifth, but 1A No. 9-ranked Lisbon rallied back for a 6-5 win.
The Lions (19-10) took a 4-3 lead in the sixth, but STC answered with a run of its own to force extra innings because of the time limit. Lisbon tallied twice in the seventh while South Tama got one across but left the bases loaded.
"When the pressure's on, can we execute on defense and on the mound?" Ahrends pondered. "I think we can, I think we can do it. I believe in them, and in the past I might not have. I hope they believe in themselves.
"We were 1-7 this week and it sounds terrible but we played some of our best ball all year."
South Tama's 3-1 lead came courtesy of four walks issued by Lisbon reliever Ally Smith in the fifth. After falling behind, Appelgate tied it up at 4-all with her bases-loaded, two-out single to plate Baack.
Turning to the international tie-breaker in the seventh, Lisbon got two runs highlighted by Brooke Robinson's RBI single with two outs.
A double by Hailee Weiss drove in Rohach, and Dani Stubbs followed with a single. After Hala's potential tying hit was taken away by a nice running catch by left fielder Paige Felderman, Baack walked to load the bases. Madie Bacon was unable to come up with the clutch hit, however, as the Lions claimed victory for a 3-1 showing at the Bobcat Classic.
STC had just three hits in the loss - one each for Appelgate, Weiss and Stubbs. Holtz took the loss, allowing only one earned run on five hits, five walks and two hit batsmen. She struck out two, but the Trojans - and Lions alike - made five errors.
Both teams stranded 11 runners on base after combining to walk a total of 16 batters.
Winning pitcher Ali Givens was 2-for-3 with an RBI double to pace Lisbon. Zeva Light went 1-for-4 with an RBI single, scored twice and robbed Stubbs of a sure hit with a diving catch in the bottom of the sixth.
South Tama resumes play on Monday with an NICL West Division home game against Gladbrook-Reinbeck.