Bombers finish third in RRC, start regional play Saturday
HUXLEY – Ballard was always one step behind Carlisle in the Raccoon River Conference finale for both teams Monday on senior night in Huxley.
In a battle between two top-10 Class 4A teams, Ballard fell behind 3-0 after three innings. The Bombers used the long ball to get back in the game, but Carlisle scored one run in each of the last two innings and a seventh-inning rally came up short for Ballard in a 5-2 loss.
"We kind of shot ourselves in the foot early in the game and gave them some unearned runs on some great pitches," Ballard head coach Staci Sniezek said. "We didn’t make the plays we needed to, and when you play a great team like Carlisle, that’s the difference between winning and losing."
In the top of the second inning, Carlisle’s Elin Landgren hit a leadoff single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and then with two outs she scored on a Bomber error.
The top of the third saw Carlisle’s Hattie Hupke single and score on an errant Bomber throw off a ball hit by Payton Mercer. Mercer later scored on an RBI single from Abby Davis.
Ballard pitcher Kenzie Ihle shut down Carlisle in the top of the fourth and then she teamed with Brooke Mallon to get Ballard back into the game in the bottom of the inning.
Mallon stepped up to the plate to lead off the Bomber half of the fourth and ripped a home run to left field for Ballard’s first hit off Wildcat pitcher Shyanne Dubois. Ihle followed Mallon by crushing an even bigger shot to left to pull Ballard within 3-2.
Three batters later, Ellen Huxford ripped a two-out double to right-center field, but Dubois struck out Sheridan Gealow to end the inning with Carlisle still on top.
In the top of the fifth Ihle worked around an infield hit from Mercer, thanks to a couple great Bomber defensive plays. A diving stop by Annie Stolte at shortstop resulted in a force out at second, and a big-time throw from Mallon behind the plate caught Mercer stealing to end the inning.
But the Bombers were unable to take advantage of a leadoff infield single from Ellie Godwin. Sydney Fisher sacrificed Godwin over to second and then new Wildcat hurler Gabby Schnathorst caught both Stolte and Mallon looking for strikeouts to leave Godwin stranded.
In the sixth Carlisle went up 4-2 when Landgren hit a leadoff single and courtesy runner Taylor Dubois scored on a single from Katie Berg. The Wildcats took a 5-2 lead in the seventh, thanks to a leadoff home run by Shyanne Dubois to center field.
In the bottom of the seventh, Huxford gave Ballard some life with a leadoff single. Pinch hitter Gabie Doud hit into a force play, but Ellie Godwin connected on a bloop single. Fisher followed with a sacrifice bunt to put runners on second and third with two outs, with Stolte coming up to the plate as the potential tying run.
Stolte worked the count full on Schnathorst and then ripped a hard line drive just inside the third base line. Unfortunately for Stolte and the Bombers the ball went right to Hupke at third base and she snared the ball to end the game.
"They bounced back and battled right down to the last pitch," Sniezek said. "That’s what you want – somebody with power up there with two people on. That’s all you can ask for. She ripped it down that line and had (Hupke) not made that play, then suddenly we’ve got Brooke and Kenzie rolling up in the lineup."
With the loss, Ballard finished at 12-4 in the RRC to place third behind Dallas Center-Grimes (14-2) and Carlisle (13-3). Entering Monday’s game, DCG was rated second, Carlisle fourth and Ballard sixth in Class 4A.
"We really focused a lot this season on the conference race," Sniezek said. "That was something we wanted to go after and we knocked off our losses – we’re sitting at four, which is one less than last year. We beat each team this time except for Carlisle and we swept Bondurant-Farrar. We had a lot of nice wins and also took care of business when we needed to."
Ballard dropped to 24-9 overall with the loss. Godwin went 2-for-2 with a walk, Huxford was 2-for-3 and Mallon and Ihle each had one hit for Ballard. Stolte also reached base once when she was hit by a pitch in the first inning.
Ihle took the loss after giving up two earned runs on 10 hits with no strikeouts and one walk.
The Bombers begin postseason play this Saturday. The defending Class 3A state champions will begin a run at the 4A title against either Webster City or Clear Lake in the regional semifinals at 7 p.m. in Huxley.
"We are headed places we’ve never been before in a lot of ways," Sniezek said. "With 4A there are new pressures and new challenges, and it’s a lot different playing with a target on your back than it is unknown and on a roll like last year."
Shyanne Dubois was the winning pitcher for Carlisle and Schnathorst picked up the save for the Wildcats, who improved to 30-7 overall.
Carlisle 5, Ballard 2
C 012 001 1 – 5 10 0
B 000 200 0 – 2 6 3
C: Shyanne Dubois, Gabby Schnathorst (5) and Elin Landgren
B: Kenzie Ihle and Brooke Mallon
2B: B – Ellen Huxford
HR: C – Dubois; B – Ihle, Mallon
HUXLEY – Ballard split two games against a pair of top-5 Class 1A teams in a triangular with Martensdale St. Marys and Lynnville-Sully Saturday in Huxley.
The Bombers whipped Martensdale St. Marys – the No. 1 team in 1A – by an 11-1 score in five innings to hand the Blue Devils just their second loss of the season.
A seven-run fourth inning proved the big difference maker for the Bombers. They finished with 11 hits – including four home runs – and pitcher Kenzie Ihle tossed a one-hitter in the impressive victory.
Ihle struck out three batters and she walked just one on the mound. She also belted two home runs and drove in four runs to pace the explosive Bomber hitting attack.
Alex Petersen and Ellen Huxford also had huge games offensively for Ballard as they both went 3-for-3. Petersen hit her first home run and added two runs, a double and an RBI and Huxford doubled and homered, tallying two runs and RBI apiece.
Sydney Fisher was 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI and Ellie Godwin finished 1-for-2 with a walk, two steals and two runs. Olivia Hall also walked, scored and drove in a run; Brooke Mallon walked twice and knocked in two runs and Sheridan Gealow scored once.
Elizabeth Gerdes took the loss for Martensdale St. Marys after giving up 10 runs in 3 1/3 innings with two walks and a strikeout. Katrina Devore singled, stole a base and scored and Jamie Jordan had a single and RBI for the Blue Devils.
Ballard had defeated Lynnville-Sully by a 6-2 score earlier in the season. With that victory already under their belts, plus the postseason coming up, the Bombers threw freshman Emi Bendler against the fifth-ranked Hawks and they ended up on the short end of a 7-1 decision.
Ballard gave up two runs in the first inning and three in the third to trail 5-1 against the Hawks. The Bombers never got much going offensively after that, finishing with just five hits and no extra-base knocks.
Bendler gave up six earned runs on 10 hits with three strikeouts and two walks in six innings to take the loss. Fisher went 2-for-4 with a steal and a run, Petersen finished 2-for-3 with an RBI and Gealow singled for Ballard’s other base hit.
Gealow also drew a walk and Stolte picked up a free pass versus Lynnville-Sully.
Madison Rasmusson earned the win for Lynnville-Sully as she allowed one earned run and struck out six with two walks in seven innings. Shelby Davis was 2-for-4 with a home run and three runs and Lasandra James finished 3-for-3 with a double, two runs and three RBI to pace the Hawks offensively.
Ballard 11, Martensdale St. Marys 1 (5)
MSM 000 10 – 1 1 NA
B 021 71 – 11 11 NA
MSM: Elizabeth Gerdes, Riley Verwers (4) and Vicki Kordick
B: Kenzie Ihle and Brooke Mallon
2B: B – Alex Petersen, Ellen Huxford
HR: B – Ihle 2, Mallon, Petersen, Huxford
Lynnville-Sully 7, Ballard 1
B 100 000 0 – 1 5 NA
L-S 203 110 X – 7 10 NA
B: Emi Bendler and Mallon
L-S: Madison Rasmusson and Becca Vos
2B: L-S – Lasandra James, Shaylin Lukehart
HR: L-S – Shelby Davis
AMES – A late surge helped Ballard even things up against Ames, only to see the Little Cyclones prevail by a 4-3 score with a run in the bottom of the seventh inning in a non-conference game July 2 at Ames.
Ballard gave up a run in the second and two more in the fifth to fall behind 3-0. In the top of the seventh, the Bombers finally got their bats going, scoring three times to knot the score.
But just when it looked as if the game was headed into extra innings, Ames came up with a run in the bottom of the seventh to avenge an earlier loss to the Bombers at the Ballard Festival in early June.
Sheridan Gealow went 2-for-3 with an RBI and Annie Stolte doubled and drove in a run to pace Ballard offensively. Alex Petersen singled, scored and stole a base; Ellen Huxford was 1-for-3 with one run and RBI apiece; Olivia Hall scored once and Kenzie Ihle and Ellie Godwin both doubled once for Ballard in the loss.
Ihle was the losing pitcher as she allowed two earned runs on eight hits with five strikeouts and two walks in seven innings.
Kelanie Crosswait picked up the victory for Ames after striking out four and walking none in seven innings. Taylor Schumacher drove in three runs and Maddie Lynch finished 2-for-3 with a double and two runs to lead the Little Cyclones on offense.
Ames 4, Ballard 3
B 000 000 3 – 3 7 NA
A 010 020 1 – 4 8 NA
B: Kenzie Ihle and Brooke Mallon
A: Kelanie Crosswait and Hannah Bloch
2B: B – Ihle, Annie Stolte, Ellie Godwin; A – Bloch, Maddie Lynch
HUXLEY – Two strong innings were enough to give Ballard an easy 7-1 Raccoon River Conference victory over Adel-Desoto-Minburn July 1 in Huxley.
The Bombers jumped out to a 3-0 lead after one inning. ADM pulled within 3-1 after four frames, but Ballard plated four runs in its half of the fifth to pull away and earn its 12th RRC victory.
Sydney Fisher, Kenzie Ihle, Katie Ahrenholtz and Sheridan Gealow each had two hits for Ballard in the win. Fisher scored twice and stole a base, Ihle homered and drove in two runs, Ahrenholtz tallied one run and RBI apiece and Gealow drove in a run.
Alex Petersen went 1-for-3 with a run and two RBI and Ellen Huxford singled in a run. Annie Stolte also walked and scored once and courtesy runner Olivia Hall crossed the plate for the Bombers.
Ihle was the winning pitcher after allowing one unearned run on six hits with eight strikeouts and one walk. Kate Collins took the loss for ADM after giving up five earned runs on 10 hits with two strikeouts and one walk in five innings.
Ballard 7, ADM 1
ADM 000 100 0 – 1 6 NA
B 300 040 X – 7 10 NA
ADM: Kate Collins, Molly Jacobsen (6) and Hannah Tiffany
B: Kenzie Ihle and Brooke Mallon
2B: ADM – Kenzie Sutton
HR: B – Ihle