JEWELL - Walking down the third base line was one coach full of adrenaline, high-fiving players as they celebrated. On the opposite side of the field stood the other coach, his head down as he kicked away at the dirt.
That's how it goes when two struggling teams, both in desperate need of a victory, meet on the softball field.
Only one can be victorious.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
South Hamilton catcher Shannon Hoyle tracks back towards the fence for a pop-up in foul territory, but the ball appears to stick in the fence for a moment after popping out of Hoyle’s glove during yesterday evening’s contest against Northeast Hamilton in Jewell. The Hawks rallied for four runs in the sixth inning to beat the Trojets, 4-2, in the non-conference game.
That was South Hamilton yesterday evening at the Mike Penning Athletic Complex, as the Hawks scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to rally and beat county rival Northeast Hamilton, 4-2, for their first win of the season. The one-win Trojets held a 2-0 lead after 5 1/2 innings, but a defensive debacle in the last half of the sixth that featured three errors proved to be their downfall.
"It was a tough loss ... there have been many tough losses," Northeast Hamilton head coach Dave Hilton, the aforementioned dejected skipper, said afterwards. "This is at least the fifth time where a team has come back to beat us, so I'm pretty down. We just don't know how to win right now."
Tarin Bell, the Hawks' head coach who showed her excitement following the contest, was just happy to get off the schneid.
Northeast Hamilton010 010 0-2 7 7
South Hamilton000 004 x-4 2 5
Molly Greenfield and Jennifer Jeffers. MacKenzie Busch and Shannon Hoyle. W-Busch. L-Greenfield. 2B-SH: Tiffany Jacobson, Molly Minich. RBI-SH: Minich (2), Kayla Lucas.
"It's always good to get that first win so (the players) know what it feels like to have that emotion of winning," she said. "We definitely needed this one."
Molly Greenfield, a junior right-handed pitcher for Northeast Hamilton (1-10), was in top form for much of the evening. She used her off-speed pitches to baffle the Hawks (1-7), and she took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. She walked out of the circle for good giving up just two hits with two walks and four strikeouts in six innings of work. All four of South Hamilton's sixth-inning runs were unearned.
"Molly pitched great. You can't fault her one bit," Hilton said. "You give up two hits and lose the game, that's just unforgivable."
Greenfield was in a groove, sitting down nine of 12 batters she faced leading up to the sixth inning. There was one out when Hawks' No. 6 hitter Tiffany Jacobson finally broke up the no-no with a double down the left field line. Jacobson turned on an inside pitch and sent the ball screaming off the third-base bag to put runners on second and third.
Ella Jans, aboard on an error, raced home from third moments later on the second Trojet error of the inning to cut Hawks' deficit to 2-1, and one batter later No. 8 stick Molly Minich provided the dagger - a go-ahead two-run double that landed between NEH outfielders Jaidyn Timm and Lillian Chamness in left-center.
A slow roller off the bat of No. 9 hitter Kayla Lucas resulted in another error and brought the fourth run of the frame to the dish.
"We obviously needed that (sixth) inning," Bell said. "We were struggling a lot with the speed of (Greenfield) and it took us a while to get used to it. But Molly came up with a great hit and she was due."
Greenfield worked her own way out of the jam, recording a groundout, followed by a strikeout.
NEH scored one run in the second inning and another in the fifth to build the two-run cushion. Chamness drew a one-out walk in the second and eventually scored on South Hamilton's second error of the inning. In the fourth, Greenfield led off with a base hit to left field, moved to second on a wild pitch, over to third on a single by Kaylee Massman, and then raced home on another wild pitch by Hawks' hurler MacKenzie Busch.
Greenfield went 4 for 4 at the plate to lead the Trojets' seven-hit attack. Caity Hassebrock and Jenn Willems both lashed singles as well.
Willems and Greenfield smacked back-to-back singles to give the Trojets life in the seventh, but it was quickly extinguished when Hawks' third baseman Kayla Carlson turned a 5-3 double-play on a hard grounder off the bat of Timm.
Busch notched the first win of her career by allowing just one earned run. She issued two free passes and fanned three.
Bell sang the praises of her freshman pitcher, who took some hefty lumps in the circle while filling in for veteran Brittany Nicholson, who will make her season debut today at the Urbandale Tournament.
"I am so proud of MacKenzie; she has pitched well beyond what I expected," Bell said. "She definitely has that poker face where she can keep her focus and just do her job. Yeah, we're glad to get Brittany back, but I'm excited to know that we've got a relief pitcher if we need one."
Both teams had their issues defensively; they combined to commit 12 errors.
South Hamilton will face Norwalk and Clarke today in Urbandale, while NEH will resume Iowa Star Conference play against CAL.