HUXLEY - The bats woke up just in time for No. 5 Ballard in a Raccoon River Conference battle with No. 7 Perry June 29 at Gary Telford Field in Huxley.
After going hitless for 4 ⅔ innings off Perry pitcher Emma Olejnicak, the Bombers put up three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to pull off a 4-1 victory over the Bluejays for their 30th victory of the season.
With the score tied at 1-1 going into the bottom of the sixth, Ballard leadoff hitter Skylar Rigby decided it was now or never for her team. She began the Bomber half of the inning by belting a double to center field — only Ballard’s second hit off Olejniczak.
“It’s kind of my job — I’m supposed to get on base and get things started,” Rigby said. “My teammates do a really good job of producing after that.”
Ballard certainly did produce after Rigby’s big hit. Rachel Newell hit an RBI bunt single over the head of Perry third baseman Adriana Eastman to put runners on the corners, then Abby Carlin was safe on a fielder’s choice to load the bases with no outs.
Rigby made her way home with the eventual winning run on a wild pitch — the same way Ballard scored its first run of the game in the first inning. Isabell Hobbs followed up with a sacrifice fly and then with two outs, Karlee Ahrenholtz came up with a clutch RBI single to give Ballard its three-run cushion.
“I was just trying to get my hands to the ball and trying to get my runner in on third base,” Ahrenholtz said. “I just knew I needed to step up my game for my team and put myself in position to score that runner on third base.”
Ballard’s only other hit prior to Rigby’s double in the sixth was a two-out single by Hannah Elliott in the bottom of the fifth. But despite the lack of production, a young Bomber lineup played like veterans when it mattered most.
“We just relaxed, trusted in ourselves, trusted in our swing and trusted in what we’ve been working on all winter long,” Rigby said. “Then it just all came together.”
After Perry scored its only run in the bottom of the sixth, Carlin quickly retired the Bluejays in the top of the seventh to seal the deal. Hobbs made a great diving catch off a ball hit by Maddie West for the first out of the inning, then Carlin struck out Eastman and forced Brooke Huntington to ground back to her on the mound.
Carlin only allowed five hits and she struck out nine with no walks and one hit batsmen.
Ballard was coming off a tough 3-2 loss to RRC leader and No. 3 Winterset in 10 innings the night before. Having to immediately turn around and play in another tight contest against a ranked opponent is just what Carlin wanted, as her team kept its chances of sharing the conference title alive with the win.
“I love close games,” Carlin said. “It helps a lot when my defense is there to back me up.”
Ballard’s first run came when Rachel Newell reached on an error, made her way to third on a groundout by Carlin and scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the first. Elliott, Rigby, Newell and Ahrenholtz each finished with one hit for Ballard.
The victory put the Bombers at 30-5 overall and 11-2 in the RRC.
Olejniczak recorded nine strikeouts with no walks for a brilliant showing in defeat for Perry. Sindy Vancil collected two hits and she scored Perry’s only run off an RBI single from Rachel Kinney in the sixth.
Huntington and Johanna Diw each added one hit for the Bluejays.
Ballard 4, Perry 1
P 000 001 0 - 1 5 2
B 100 003 X - 4 4 0
P: Emma Olejniczak and Brooke Huntington.
B: Abby Carlin and Skylar Rigby.
2B: B - Rigby.
HUXLEY - Ballard wasn’t able to find enough offense past the fourth inning, suffering a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Winterset in a 10-inning battle between the top two teams in the Raccoon River Conference June 28 at Gary Telford Field in Huxley.
The Bombers, rated No. 5 in Class 4A, held a 2-1 lead through six innings of play. Winterset — ranked No. 3 in 4A — scored once in the opening frame, Ballard tied the score with a run in the third, then went on top with another run in the fourth.
In the top of the seventh, Winterset put the tying run on the board and Ballard was unable to answer as the game went into extra innings. Bomber pitcher Abby Carlin and Winterset hurler Sophie Stover kept the scored tied at 2-2 through nine innings.
Winterset broke the tie with a run in the top of the 10th and Ballard couldn’t respond, to fall to 10-2 in the RRC. Winterset improved to 11-1 and took over sole possession at the top of the conference standings.
Both teams ended the game with eight hits. Winterset had two doubles and one home run and Ballard tallied a pair of doubles.
Isabell Hobbs was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI, Isabella Johnson went 3-for-4 and Karlee Ahrenholtz doubled for Ballard. Skylar Rigby went 1-for-5 with a steal and an RBI, Hannah Elliott singled and scored and Rachel Newell walked twice, stole a base and scored.
Carlin gave up one earned run with 11 strikeouts and two walks, going all 10 innings. Stover allowed two earned runs with eight strikeouts and two walks in 10 innings as the winning pitcher.
Macy Johnson doubled, homered, scored twice and drove in a run to pace Winterset on offense. Ally Pickering had three hits and Danny Barker doubled and scored for the Huskies.
Winterset 3, Ballard 2 (10)
W 100 000 100 1 - 3 8 NA
B 001 100 000 0 - 2 8 NA
W: Sophie Stover and Emma Lowden.
B: Abby Carlin and Skylar Rigby.
2B: W - Macy Johnson, Danny Barker. B - Isabell Hobbs, Karlee Ahrenholtz.
HR: W - Johnson.
ROLAND - Ballard used a pair of quality middle innings to get past Roland-Story, 6-2, for a non-conference victory June 27 at Bill Hennessy Field in Roland.
The Bombers put up three runs apiece in the third and fourth innings to take charge. Roland-Story answered with a run in the bottom of the fourth and another score in the fifth, but the Norse were unable to add any more runs over the final two innings.
Hannah Elliott gave up two runs on six hits with five strikeouts and two walks in 6 ⅔ innings as the winning Bomber pitcher. Abby Carlin got the final Norse out, giving up one walk in ⅓ of an inning.
Carlin paced Ballard with the bat as she was 2-for-3 with a home run, walk, steal, two runs and four RBI. Maggie Larson went 3-for-4; Rachel Newell singled, walked and scored; Skylar Rigby scored twice and picked up one walk and steal apiece and Isabell Hobbs singled and scored.
Jenna Moody singled and walked, Karlee Ahrenholtz singled once and Katie Sydnes drew one walk for the Bombers.
Ballard 6, Roland-Story 2
B 003 300 0 - 6 9 NA
RS 000 110 0 - 2 6 NA
B: Hannah Elliott, Abby Carlin (7) and Skylar Rigby.
HR: B - Carlin.