TCT sports round-up: Collins-Maxwell softball team falls in reigonal finals

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune
Collins-Maxwell's Avery Fricke (left) fights back tears as the Spartans huddle together one last time following a 4-2 loss to Newman Catholic (Mason City) in the 1A regional softball final at Collins Monday.

The fourth-ranked Collins-Maxwell softball team suffered a heartbreaking 4-2 loss to Newman Catholic in the Class 1A regional final in Collins Monday.

The loss denied the Spartans (23-3) a trip to state for the second year in a row after they reached the state championship game in their first three seasons as a program, winning the 1A title in both 2017 and 2018.

Ballard made its way to the 3A regional finals against No. 4 West Liberty after upsetting ninth-ranked Roland-Story with a dominant 8-0 victory at Roland Saturday. The win put the Bombers at 15-20.

The Ballard baseball team saw its season come to a close after losing a 3-2 heartbreaker to No. 9 Independence in the 3A substate semifinals Monday at Independence. The Bombers finished their season with a 19-11 record and a Raccoon River Conference championship.

Erica Houge set a school record with 18 strikeouts during Collins-Maxwell's 4-2 loss to Newman Catholic in the 1A regional finals Monday at Collins.

Erica Houge's big game not enough for Spartans

Erica Houge set a mark not even her future Hall of Fame sister Mikayla, a current Division 1 pitcher at Virginia, could reach in her time at Collins-Maxwell during Monday's regional final against Newman Catholic.

Houge struck out an amazing 18 batters during the game, but five errors and a lack of offensive production doomed the Spartans.

"There wasn't an earned run out of that bunch that we gave them," Collins-Maxwell head coach Troy Houge said. "When you strike out 18 you shouldn't lose the game. When you do what Erica did to go out and get us a win and we can't make routine plays behind her it stinks. We owe her better than what we gave her tonight."

Houge struck out the side four times. But Newman Catholic came up with some timely hits in the second and fifth innings and the Knights were also helped out by Collins-Maxwell's defensive mistakes in each frame.

"Eighteen strikeouts will usually get you the win," Erica Houge said. "We just didn't make the plays."

Newman Catholic took a 2-0 lead with a pair of runs in the top of the second inning courtesy of a two-run double by Avah Hanig. Collins-Maxwell answered with a run in the fourth after Houge singled and Vivian Kahler eventually knocked in a run, but Newman Catholic came right back with two runs in the fifth on a two-run single by Emma Weiner.

Collins-Maxwell continued to struggle at the plate until there were two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. 

With the game on the line Cypress Erickson singled for her second hit of the game and seniors Alexis Houge and Avery Fricke both had infield hits to load the bases. With Erica Houge up to the plate Erickson scored on a wild pitch, leading Newman Catholic to intentionally walk Houge to load the bases back up.

Cypress Erickson had two hits to help give Collins-Maxwell hope in its 4-2 loss to Newman Catholic during the 1A regional softball finals Monday in Collins.

Newman Catholic pitcher Macy Kellar then forced the Spartans' Marissa Boege to fly out to shortstop to end the game.

"We had a good run at the end," Troy Houge said. "Our little eighth grader Cypress had two big hits tonight. She had a huge hit with two outs in the seventh. The two seniors both got on when we needed it, but we knew they weren't going to pitch to (Erica) and somebody else had to step up. We had a chance. It was in our grasp with another base hit. We just didn't do it."

Collins-Maxwell reached the finals with an 8-0 victory over Colo-NESCO July 6 and a 2-0 victory over North Butler Friday.

In the win over Colo-NESCO Alexis Houge doubled twice, scored two times and picked up one steal and RBI apiece and Kenzi Wierson was 3-for-4 with an RBI. Erica Houge drove in two runs, Erickson and Emma Pasquariello both singled and scored and Fricke scored twice and picked up an RBI.

Erica Houge was the winning pitcher after firing a one-hitter with 12 strikeouts. 

Erica tossed a no-hitter with 13 strikeouts and one walk in the victory over North Butler. Alexis Houge tripled and scored, Boege was 2-for-3 with a double, Wierson went 1-for-2 with an RBI and Merryman scored a run for the Spartans.

Bomber softball team hits its stride

The regular season has been tipsy-turvy at times for Ballard due to youth and playing in the toughest conference among 3A and 4A teams in the state.

But the Bombers are peaking at the right time.

Ballard dismantled Des Moines Christian by a 10-0 score in the 3A regional quarterfinals July 6 at Des Moines.

Kasey Larson was the hero of the game for Ballard on offense as she homered twice and drove in five runs. Maggie Mortensen and Brooklyn Baumgardner both knocked in two runs and Jocie Hobbs scored twice.

Baumgardner got the win after throwing a two-hitter with six strikeouts.

The Bombers avenged an earlier 9-7 loss to Roland-Story in the regional semifinals Saturday at Roland. They jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second inning and coasted behind another strong pitching performance from Baumgardner.

Baumgardner tossed a four-hitter with three strikeouts and one walk against the Norse. She also doubled and drove in a run on offense.

Jocie Hobbs drove in four runs, Ella Husak was 2-for-4 with three runs and an RBI, Sam Vetter knocked in two runs and Larson went 2-for-4 with a run.

Ballard baseball falls just short of substate final

The Ballard baseball team took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the second inning Monday at Independence. But the Bombers gave up a run in the second and another in the fifth to tie the game.

That set up the winning run for Independence in the bottom of the seventh. Statistics for the game were not available at press deadline.

Ballard reached the semifinals with a decisive 11-1 victory over conference rival Boone in the quarterfinals Friday at Nite Hawk Field in Slater.

Jayden Cattell was 3-for-4 with a double, two runs and an RBI and Jakson Fleischmann 3-for-4 with three runs and an RBI for Ballard in the victory. Jaden Peasley homered and drove in two runs, Colby Calvert  was 1-for-3 with two runs and an RBI and Eli Rouse went 2-for-5 with a double and one run and RBI apiece. 

Rouse was the winning pitcher against Boone after turning in a brilliant performance on the mound. He went all six innings and threw a four-hitter with 11 strikeouts and just one walk.