On a night when the Marshalltown softball team recognized its eight seniors, it was two freshmen from Benton Community who stole the show.
Amber Fiser twirled a two-hitter and struck out nine over seven innings and Alyssa Wiebel laced a two-run double in the top of the seventh inning to crack the scoreboard as Class 4A No. 10 Benton spoiled Marshalltown's Senior Night with a 4-0 victory at the MHS diamond Wednesday night.
"I don't look at it as a bad inning," MHS coach Jeff Lamb said of Benton's four-run seventh inning. "We just got beat today. We didn't beat ourselves, and that is the key with this team. We need to make sure we keep getting better and we got better today even though we lost."
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Marshalltown senior Madi Bellile, left, tags out Benton Community’s Katrina Sindt after Sindt and Alyssa Wiebel were both caught in rundowns. The out retired the side in the first inning and the game remained scoreless until Class 4A No. 10 Benton scored four runs in the top of the seventh to claim its 13th win in its last 14 games, prevailing 4-0.
Fiser improved to 16-0 on the season. She came into the contest with a 0.96 earned run average and now has 176 strikeouts and just 14 walks on the year.
"I kind of thought which ever team scored first was going to win," said Benton coach Ali Galbraith. "I thought that team would get the momentum and be able to keep it. That is the way it worked out. I am just glad we scored more than one in that last inning.
"We haven't had to worry about not scoring runs this year, but we feel like if we score one run we can still win. Amber is a great pitcher and she has plenty of confidence. She also knows she has a great defense behind her."
Fiser gave up a two-out double to Taylor Wagner in the first inning and then walked Megan Major and surrendered a bunt single to Emily DeVenney in the sixth. But that is the only three base runners the Bobcats had all night.
Wagner came up to the plate with Major and Devenney in scoring position and two outs in the sixth inning. She swung at the first pitch but was retired after a hard ground ball to the pitcher.
Galbraith knows how good Wagner is. She would have been happy giving the MHS all-stater a free pass but was glad her young pitcher found a way to get out of the jam,
"I looked at Amber and said 'look, we have a base open,"' Galbraith said. "I gave her a pitch that was supposed to be off the plate, and it must have been enough off the plate to get the tip of Taylor's bat. She is a great player and next game she'll probably get that hit and I hope she does."
Wiebel came into the game hitting .525 with six home runs and 44 RBIs on the season. She singled in the first and third before crushing a Lauren Mazour pitch to the gap in left-center field. The ball hit the fence in the air and plated the first two runs of the game.
Elizabeth Embray followed that up with a two-run single to put the game away.
"She had great contact all night," Galbraith said of Wiebel. "I knew her coming up there that she would have a good at-bat. She was in the right frame of mind tonight and was in control at the plate."
Mazour allowed 10 hits in the loss but fanned a season-high nine while walking none. Three of the four runs she allowed were earned.
"They are a great team, they have a great pitcher and they are great hitters," an emotional Mazour said of Benton. "The momentum just started a little late and we weren't able to get it done."
The MHS softball program said goodbye to eight seniors Wednesday - Wagner, Mazour, Major, DeVenney, Madi Bellile, Morgan Bellile, Quinn Goodman and Eisha Oden. Lamb, who will be the head coach at Clarke University next season, appreciated what each and every one of the seniors did for the program.
"All of them have just given us everything they had," Lamb said. "And none of them wanted to be the person that made the last out on their home field. Unfortunately with seven senior starters one of them is going to have it happen. They have done a lot for us and will continue to do a lot for us. This is a good group to look up to."
Benton improved to 28-4 after the victory and have won 13 of their last 14 games.
Marshalltown (15-20) will next play at Mason City in a doubleheader on Monday. That Central Iowa Conference Northern Division matchup also will be a preview of the first round of the regional tournament in a few weeks.
"We just go out and play the way we have been playing," Lamb said. "We're not moving anywhere. We have our seed. We are going up there to take two games and to get some confidence. We know we can beat them. We're just going to go out and play the best we can."
Mazour also fanned nine batters in a 2-1 win over BCLUW on June 7. She gave Wagner a lot of credit for the nine strikeouts Wednesday. "Taylor was calling the right pitches. We had to mix it up today because Benton can hit the inside pitches. Luckily those other pitches were working today." ... Wagner came into the game hitting a team-best .430 and also has a team-high 25 RBIs, 25 runs and 12 stolen bases. ... Benton's Savannah Halstead was hitting .609 before a knee injury ended her season three weeks ago. Halstead had ACL surgery yesterday. ... Fiser retired Marshalltown in order in the second, third, fourth, fifth and seventh innings. She struck out the side in the second.