Clarinda hung its first three games in the win column last week on the softball diamond.
The Cardinals opened the week with a wild 12-9 home win Wednesday, May 29, against Sidney. The victory was their first of the season.
“To get that first win meant everything for us. It was huge for the girls’ attitude. They have been working hard and now they have that monkey off their back and can have a little more fun,” Clarinda coach Seth Allbaugh said.
Clarinda scored in all but one inning during the contest. The Cardinals struck first with a single run in the bottom of the first inning and maintained a 3-1 lead after two innings of play.
However, Sidney responded with four runs in the top of the third inning to go on top 5-3. After Clarinda trimmed the lead to 5-4 in the bottom of the third, the Cardinals erupted for six runs in the fourth inning to take control of the game 10-5.
“That opened up the game a little bit and gave us some breathing room,” Allbaugh said.
Still, Sidney chipped away at the deficit as the Cowgirls closed the margin to 10-9 in the top of the sixth inning. Clarinda answered the challenge with a pair of runs in the home half of the frame and then retired Sidney in the top of the seventh inning to preserve the victory.
Hallee Fine drove in three runs for Clarinda on a pair of base hits. Hailee Knight added a single and plated two runs.
Makayla Fichter turned in two hits, including a double, scored two runs to go along with one run batted in (RBI) and one stolen base. Jordyn McQueen added two hits, two runs, one RBI and one stolen base.
Courtesy runner Maddie Sunderman also swiped two bags as Clarinda posted four stolen bases in the contest. She also scored three runs.
Addison Shane singled and was credited with one RBI. She also crossed the plate twice.
Aliyah St. Romain provided two hits and one run scored, while Bryn Morgenstern tallied a single and a run scored. Kennedy Reed came around to score the other Clarinda run.
“Overall, it was a good team effort. We had some errors, but they didn’t buckle. We kept putting the bat on the ball, kept the pressure on their defense and forced them to make two pitching changes,” Allbaugh said.
Meanwhile, Aziah Smalley went the distance on the mound for Clarinda to earn the win. She only allowed four earned runs on eight hits. Smalley issued five walks, but also posted three strikeouts in the game.
“Aziah has been rock solid for us all year,” Allbaugh said.
Clarinda then improved to 3-4 on the season with a pair of victories Saturday, June 1, at Atlantic. Rather than a bracket format, the tournament featured three predetermined games.
The Cardinals opened the day with a 12-4 win over Audubon in five innings. Clarinda scored in every inning of the game.
Clarinda came out of the gate swinging as the Cardinals scored three runs in the first inning and stretched the lead to 10-1 heading to the bottom of the fourth inning.
Fine helped power the onslaught with two hits, including a double, and plated three runs. Shane added a double and two singles to go along with one run scored.
The Cardinals hung four runs on the scoreboard in the second inning highlighted by the second home run of the season for Fichter. She also picked up a single and a double as she posted three RBIs and scored three runs.
“It was big for us to get that big lead. We were able to get some kids out of the game and get some of our younger kids in. In a tournament, any time you can rest some starters that is huge,” Allbaugh said.
Knight knocked in two runs on one hit. Bradlie Wilmes scored two runs to go along with one hit and one RBI. Morgenstern finished with two hits and two runs scored.
McQueen and St. Romain turned in two hits apiece. McQueen was also credited with one RBI and one run scored.
Smalley tossed the first three innings to pick up the win. She held Audubon to one unearned run on one hit and fanned three.
Knight came on to pitch the final two innings. She allowed three earned runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, but the Cardinals added two insurance runs for Knight in the top of the fifth inning. She gave up two hits and three walks in her two innings of relief.
In the second game of the tournament, Carroll cruised to a 13-1 win over Clarinda. The Tigers struck for seven runs in the top of the first inning and never looked back.
The Cardinals scored their lone run in the bottom of the second inning. McQueen singled and came around to score the run on a double by Knight. Those were the only two hits of the game for Clarinda.
“Their pitcher was hitting her spots well and moving the ball around. We had a tough time getting hits. They have a really good team and it was a good matchup for us to see that good of team. We got to see where we want to be eventually,” Allbaugh said.
However, Clarinda bounced back to end the day with a 4-3 win over Exira-EHK.
Clarinda jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. The Cardinals still clung to a 2-1 edge heading to the bottom of the fifth inning before Exira-EHK pushed across two runs to grab a 3-2 lead.
“Aziah pitched lights out the entire game, but got a tough luck no decision. We had the lead, but they scored two runs on an error. She was getting tired, so I had to take her out,” Allbaugh said.
Smalley pitched four and two-thirds innings. She was charged with one earned run on two hits and four walks. She also notched two strikeouts.
Knight entered the game with the bases loaded and no outs. She promptly induced a ground ball right back to her that she turned into a force at the plate. Knight then got the next two batters to pop out.
Due to the time limit used for the tournament, it appeared the sixth inning would be final frame. However, Clarinda was able to tie the score at 3 as Fine led off the inning with a ground rule double and was driven home by Fichter. Fine finished the game with two doubles and two RBI.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Knight worked out of a jam to keep the score tied. As a result, the game went to extra innings using the international tiebreaker where each team starts the inning with a runner at second base.
McQueen started the seventh inning at second base for the Cardinals and promptly scored on a double off the bat of Knight. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Exira-EHK had runners at second and third with two outs. However, the Spartans popped out to end the game.
“It was a great game all the way around. Both teams played well. If you were a fan in the stands you might have had a heart attack, but it was fun to watch,” Allbaugh said.
Knight earned her first varsity win in the game. She limited the Spartans to one hit and two walks in her two and one-third innings of relief.
Wilmes and Shane each contributed one hit and one run scored in the game. Sunderman also had one run scored, while Kennedy Reed capped off a strong day defensively for the Cardinals at third base.
“It just shows these girls are battling play in and play out. Everybody on the team did something to help produce a win,” Allbaugh said.
Prior to the tournament, the Cardinals played a twin bill Thursday, May 30, at Denison. The Monarchs, who are ranked sixth in Class 4A, swept the doubleheader by scores of 3-2 and 9-5.
In the opening game, Clarinda took a quick 1-0 lead as Wilmes led off the game with a slap hit. She then came around to score on an RBI double by Fine. Wilmes added another single later in the game.
Denison tied the score in the bottom of the second. Clarinda edged back in front 2-1 in the fourth inning only to see the Monarchs again tie the score in the bottom of the frame. The Monarchs then took a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning and made that score stand up for the win.
“We had some chances late in the game, but couldn’t get the key hits to push in another run,” Allbaugh said.
Fichter delivered a double and scored on an RBI single by Knight. Shane also turned in a double. Morgenstern Reed and St. Romain each added a single.
Smalley was charged with the loss despite allowing only two earned runs over six innings. She surrendered five hits and two walks, while fanning four.
In the nightcap, Denison collected a 9-5 win.
The Monarchs held a 7-0 lead after three innings of play. After both teams scored twice in the fourth inning, Clarinda picked up three runs in the sixth inning.
Fichter helped get the scoring started for Clarinda as she connected on her first homer of the year in the fourth inning. She also scored twice in the game.
Jillian Graham came off the bench to provide a single, one RBI and one run scored. The other two Clarinda runs were scored by McQueen and Sunderman.
Shane chipped in with two hits. Smalley and Knight also singled against the Monarchs.
Knight started the game and took the loss. She gave up five earned runs on seven hits and one walk over two and two-thirds innings. Smalley finished the game and surrendered one earned run while striking out three batters.