STATE CENTER - The Gladbrook-Reinbeck softball team threw aside its overall record. The Rebels forgot about a 21-game losing streak they endured earlier this season. It was a fresh start and a chance to start with a clean slate.
And despite a slow start, G-R took full advantage of the refresh of its season and a five-run fifth inning propelled the Rebels to a 7-5 victory over NICL West rival West Marshall here on Tuesday night in a Class 2A Region 6 opener.
"We went into this game with the mindset that everyone gets to start 0-0," G-R senior Emily Snider said. "The team just pulled together, went out and played our hearts out, kept our spirits up and that one inning did it for us."
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Gladbrook-Reinbeck senior Emily Snider slides into home plate ahead of the tag from West Marshall sophomore Rachel Freland, left, during 2A regional softball action at State Center on Tuesday. The Rebels rallied to win 7-5 and will next play at Alburnett tonight.
Snider finished with two hits, two runs and two RBIs in the win, and fellow senior Taylor Flamme's two-run single in the sixth proved to be the difference as the Rebels moved on to Wednesday's regional quarterfinal at Alburnett.
"They brought their 'A' game and that is what I expected to see," said first-year coach Danielle Clark. "This team really deserved this. They have been battling through things all year. No matter what our record was, they still battled the entire season. They really deserved this one and I am happy with the effort."
West Marshall led 2-0 through four innings and got a three-run home run from graduated senior McKenna Hotopp in the seventh inning to make things interesting. However, the Trojans couldn't overcome their four errors and Gladbrook-Reinbeck's five-run fifth inning.
"The two times we played them previously, we put the ball in play and they made the errors," said West Marshall coach Jordan Bentley, whose Trojans were 2-0 against the Rebels before Tuesday night. "Tonight, we made the errors and they didn't. That was the story of the game. They deserved to win."
West Marshall starter Rachel Freland cruised through the first four innings, allowing just one hit to the Rebel offense.
But in the fifth inning, Gladbrook-Reinbeck (3-23) scored five runs on four hits and was walked four times to take the lead. Hayley Weber, Jordan LeBarge and Lauren Gauthier - the Rebels' 7-8-9 hitters - all reached base with a single and two walks, respectively.
That allowed Snider, who came into the game with a team-best .392 batting average, to stroll to the plate. And the senior delivered a two-run single to tie the game. Snider eventually scored on an error, Nicole Adair singled and then scored on a wild pitch and Flamme singled and scored on another Trojan error.
While the Rebels came through with runners on base, the Trojans had runners on first and third with one out in the fourth but did not score and then only scored one in the fifth despite collecting three hits at the plate.
Snider denied West Marshall a second run in the top of the fifth when she threw out Sadie Simatovich at home following a single by Hotopp. Simatovich drove in a run earlier in the inning to make it 2-0, but West Marshall couldn't add to its lead.
"I thought that could switch momentum for us big time," Snider said. "I was hoping that would get us going, and the team pulled through after that."
That play from centerfield by Snider was followed up with a five-run fifth inning at the plate for the Rebels. G-R then extended its lead to 7-2 after a two-run single in the sixth by Flamme.
"She has been due for sure," Clark said of Flamme. "She has been struggling a bit but pulled through tonight in the clutch spots."
The Trojans made things interesting in the seventh with a two-out rally. Simatovich walked and Larsen reached base on a two-out, two-strike bunt single and that allowed Hotopp to get one last at-bat in.
And the future Marshalltown Community College Tiger made the most of it, sending the second pitch she saw well over the fence in center field.
"We got ourselves in too big of a hole this time," Bentley said. "Usually a three-run homer in the seventh inning puts you up or ties the game, but it didn't tonight. Your hoping for someone to magically appear on the bases because you deserve a few more runs when you hit a home run in the seventh inning with two outs."
Another walk to Georgia Porter by G-R starter Taylor Street on the next at-bat forced Clark to make a move to her bullpen. Freshman Madison White was called upon to get the final out and her first pitch to Blair Bailey was lined to second base as she recorded the one-out save.
Street earned her second win of the season with a solid effort in the circle. She allowed eight hits and five earned runs with three walks.
Clark admitted it was tough pulling one of her seniors in favor of a freshman but thought the heat was catching up to Street and wanted her to be fresh for tonight's game with Alburnett.
"Taylor Street battled really hard. It was a very warm night. It was hard to take her out. I knew that it had to be done though," said Clark. "She was getting tired and with the heat, we needed her to be OK for tomorrow. I knew (Madison) could get that last out."
Snider, Flamme and Weber all had two hits at the plate to lead the Gladbrook-Reinbeck offense. Snider and Nicole Adair both scored twice, while Snider and Flamme each had two RBis.
Hotopp singled, doubled and homered in her final game at West Marshall.
Simatovich also had three hits and walked once. She led off the game with a single and then scored on a wild pitch in the first inning, singled in the third and then knocked in her twin sister Sammie Simatovich in the fifth. The walk came in the seventh prior to Hotopp's homer.
"Your hoping to get to that part of the lineup," Bentley said of the three-run seventh inning. "That is where we were the strongest. We like to bunt and make our opponents make plays. Gladbrook made plays. They got outs tonight when they didn't do that the other times they played us. They played the game how it is supposed to be played. They didn't have the big inning against them and we did."
Gladbrook-Reinbeck will play at Alburnett (21-16) at 7 p.m. tonight. The winner of that game advances to the regional semifinal on Friday in Conrad. ... The only extra base hits in the game were Hotopp's double and homer. ... West Marshall ends its season at 8-23. ... Both teams endured long losing streaks this year. G-R lost 21 straight games at one point, while the Trojans dropped 15 consecutive decisions. ... West Marshall beat Gladbrook-Reinbeck 7-3 and 9-1 during an NICL West doubleheader on June 17. ... The Rebels win over West Marshall on Tuesday was the first win over an NICL West foe this season. They finished the conference slate 0-14.