Clarinda was confronted with several high pressure situations during the opening round of the Class 2A Region 3 softball playoffs Monday, July 8, at Logan-Magnolia. Although the Cardinals ultimately suffered a 9-2 loss in the game, they continued to battle to the end.
“They got us down and took the momentum away, but we didn’t quit and still played a seven inning game,” Clarinda coach Seth Allbaugh said. “That was the mantra we have been playing with all year - keep fighting. Several times it could have gotten completely out of hand, but we just kept scrapping.”
Clarinda demonstrated that resilient attitude in the top of the seventh inning as the Cardinals came to bat trailing 9-1.
Senior Addison Shane led off the inning for the Cardinals and promptly smashed a home run over the fence to make the score 9-2. The dinger was the second hit of the game for Clarinda.
“Addison ended her career with her last at bat being a home run. It was her first one of the season. Despite the score, everybody was into the game and that just proved we never give up,” Allbaugh said.
Shane was one of four players who saw their high school careers come to an end Monday night. The other seniors were Bryn Morgenstern, Kennedy Reed and Aliyah St. Romain.
“We will certainly miss our four seniors. They all had a big part on this team, but next year it will be time for the younger kids to step up,” Allbaugh said.
Clarinda came into the game having won its final four games of the regular season. As a result, Allbaugh said the Cardinals were relaxed coming into the regional matchup.
The Cardinals got off to a positive start as leadoff hitter Bradlie Wilmes opened the game with a walk. However, she was cut down on the base paths trying to steal second base.
Logan-Magnolia then struck for three runs in the bottom of the first inning. The Panthers pushed across two of those runs on a base hit with two away in the inning.
The Panthers threatened again in the second inning as they loaded the bases with only one out. However, Clarinda pitcher Aziah Smalley induced a tapper back to the mound that resulted in a force play at the plate for the second out. She then posted a strikeout to end the threat.
Logan-Magnolia stretched the lead to 7-0 in the bottom of the third inning. The Panthers again scored three of their four runs in the inning with two away as they capitalized on a two-run single and a wild pitch.
After both teams were held scoreless in the fourth inning, the Cardinals broke up the shutout with a run in the top of the fifth inning.
Hallee Fine walked to start the inning and Maddie Sunderman entered the game as a courtesy runner. Sunderman eventually scored on a wild pitch with two outs in the inning to cut the deficit to 7-1.
However, in the bottom of the inning, the Panthers answered with two runs to extend the lead to 9-1.
Meanwhile, Clarinda had its hands full with Panther pitcher Reanna Rife. The junior hurler held the Cardinals hitless until the sixth inning and racked up 14 strikeouts in the ballgame.
“She did a really good job of placing the ball and moving it around. We came out aggressive and she pitched a good game,” Allbaugh said.
Wilmes broke up the no-hit bid with a one out single in the sixth inning. The Logan-Magnolia outfielder dove to make the catch, but had the ball tip off the end of her glove.
Smalley took the loss for the Cardinals although only one of the nine runs for the Panthers was earned. Smalley issued one walk and had two strikeouts, but also allowed 10 hits.
As a result, Clarinda finished with an overall record of 9-21 in Allbaugh’s first year as head coach of the Cardinals.
“It was a good year for us. Nine wins is more than we had the last four seasons combined. We started to lay the foundation to build the program with the kind of kids we want that work hard and listen. I think the kids bought in whole heartedly and now we expect them to put in the work in the offseason to get better for next season,” Allbaugh said.
Clarinda wrapped up the regular season with a four game winning streak. After a home doubleheader sweep June 27, Clarinda posted road wins over Southwest Valley and Bedford.
Clarinda traveled to Corning Monday, July 1, and secured a 10-0 win over Southwest Valley.
Clarinda set the tone early as Bryn Morgenstern and Shane hit back-to-back triples in the first inning as the Cardinals jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead.
After adding single runs in the next two frames, Clarinda pushed the lead to 5-0 in the sixth inning. The Cardinals then sealed the win with five runs in the seventh inning.
Kennedy Reed helped pace the Clarinda attack with three hits, two runs batted in (RBIs) and one run scored. Reed also accounted for one of the seven stolen bases for Clarinda.
Bryn Morgenstern followed with a triple and a single as she drove in one run and scored once. She also swiped two bags.
St. Romain doubled against the Timberwolves and plated two runs. Jordyn McQueen added two hits, one RBI and one run scored.
“It was good to get production from the bottom of our lineup,” Allbaugh said.
Shane connected on a triple as she drove home one run and scored one run. Hailee Knight and Wilmes each singled and scored a run. Knight also picked up one stolen base.
Hallee Fine picked up one hit, while Makayla Fichter recorded one stolen base and one run scored. Sunderman contributed two stolen bases and two runs score, while Kaylah Degase scored one run.
Smalley went the distance to pick up the win. She blanked Southwest Valley on one hit and two walks, while retiring nine batters on strikes over her seven innings of work.
“This was the first shutout of her high school career and her first one-hitter. She also had a career high in strikeouts, so those were excellent numbers for her,” Allbaugh said.
The following night, July 2, the Cardinals traveled to Bedford for their regular season finale. Clarinda emerged with a 5-1 win.
“Over these last four games our defense has been almost perfect and that is what helped with the winning streak,” Allbaugh said.
Bedford took the early lead with a run in the bottom of the first inning. Clarinda edged in front 2-1 in the fourth inning and added two more runs in the sixth inning. The Cardinals then sealed the victory with a lone run in the seventh.
“We didn’t start off hitting the ball very well. We would get on, but were not scoring runs. I told the girls to keep trying and they finally broke through,” Allbaugh said.
Smalley was again the winning pitcher as she scattered three hits and one walk over seven innings. She also notched five strikeouts.
Fichter powered the Clarinda offense as she delivered a double with two outs to plate two runs. She also scored once in the game. Bryn Morgenstern followed with two hits, one RBI, two stolen bases and one run scored.
Shane chipped in with two hits and two runs scored. She also had a stolen base on the night.
Wilmes collected a pair of singles, while McQueen posted a single and one RBI. Fine also had one RBI on a sacrifice fly.
Reed connected on one hit and scored once. Knight also picked up a base hit as Clarinda finished with 12 hits against the Bulldogs.