It’s been a trait Midland softball coach Zach Hebl has noticed a lot out of his team recently, and one he hopes will be able to generate a lot of wins in the very near future.
That future was now for the Midland team during the opening contest of their doubleheader at Maquoketa Valley Wednesday, June 2.
“It almost seems like we’re more comfortable coming from behind than we are playing with the lead early in games,” said Hebl, as his team rallied from a 4-0 deficit to defeat the host Wildcats taking a thrilling 6-5 final.
“We scored our last three runs of the game in the sixth inning without the benefit of a hit. Maquoketa Valley made some errors and this time it was us being the ones taking advantage.”
Maquoketa Valley plated three runs in the first before adding a single run in the fourth to lead 4-0 before the Midland (2-9, 1-5) offense went to work.
Kyla Cole, Anna Bartels and Sophia Coates all scored in a three-run top of the fifth before the same threesome did it again in the sixth to hand the Eagles a 6-4 lead.
They wouldn’t lose it.
“Things got a little interesting in the seventh, but the girls made the plays to get the win,” Hebl said. “I have to give Kyla Cole a lot of credit in this one. She stepped in and played third base when she didn’t have a lot of experience at the position at the varsity level and really helped her team out. She played a heck of a game in what was one of our best defensive games of the season.”
Midland bats were held to just three hits, but the team did work six walks and had some extra help as the Wildcats made four errors.
Bartels tossed the complete game seven-hitter in the pitcher’s circle striking out six Maquoketa Valley batters.
The Eagles looked to complete the sweep in the second game, but instead were handed a lopsided 13-1, four-inning setback.
“We just made way too many errors defensively to be able to stay in this game,” Hebl said. “Our pitchers are doing their jobs we just need to clean up some things behind them and we’ll be in all of the games we’re playing.
“Right now, that’s the tough thing about having such a young team. There are a lot of parts to move around to make the puzzle work on defense, and we’re still trying to figure some of those things out as the girls get more and more comfortable at their positions.”
It was the Eagles who actually scored first in the nightcap as Isabelle Ricketts singled in Allison Paulsen for what proved to be the lone Midland run in the top of the first.
Midland’s busy week opened with tough 13-0 and 22-0 losses at class 2A fourth-ranked North Linn Tuesday, June 1.
Gracie Franzen tallied the lone hit in the opener for the Eagles while Gracie Harrington and Cole had singles in the finale.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game where a pitcher allowed 22 runs, and only one of them was earned,” said Hebl, as eight Midland errors in the second game allowed 21 unearned Lynx runs to score. “Hopefully, it’s something I never have to see again. Our defense just had a tough night.”
Midland returned home Thursday, June 3, and in the second game of a twin bill with visiting Starmont, were handed a bitter 9-7 loss after rallying late to tie the game and force extra frames.
Trailing 7-1 in the sixth, Franzen, Paulsen, Ricketts, Olivia Coates and Cole all crossed the plate for the Eagles cutting the Stars’ lead to a mere one run.
In the bottom of the seventh a Cole RBI single down the left field line plated Paulsen with the game-tying run, but Starmont answered in the top of the eighth scoring twice to win.
“Once again, these girls are just not afraid of the moment,” Hebl said. “They are always willing to fight back, and they showed that once again.”
Cole’s two hits led the Midland offense while Rashelle Cole tossed the complete game in the pitcher’s circle allowing just two earned runs while striking out three.
Another game, another wild Eagle finish, this time at Bellevue Friday, June 4, where Midland rallied from a 9-3 deficit to take a 10-9 lead only to come up short in a heartbreaking 11-10 final at the hands of the Comets.
The Eagles plated three runs in the top of the sixth to cut the Bellevue lead to three runs at 9-6 before scoring four more in the top of the seventh shocking Comet fans by taking a one-run lead.
“We just couldn’t quite hang on, and again it was defense that cost us the game,” said Hebl, as his team made 11 errors leading to seven unearned Bellevue runs.
“Once our defense gets going, and it will, we’re going to be able to compete with just about anyone.”
Midland bats ripped a season-high 13 hits in the game led by two from Harrington, Franzen, Paulsen, Rashelle Cole and Sophia Coates.
Rashelle Cole got the pitching start and worked all six frames allowing four earned run while striking out six Comet batters.