Hawks get back to winning ways, take own tourney
JEWELL — It was a clunker, really it was just that simple. But how would South Hamilton respond? That was the important question as the softball team entered its own, at times water-logged Hawk Invite on Saturday at the Mike Penning Athletic Complex.
The results speak for themselves.
Less than 48 hours after South Hamilton hit enough pop-up outs to create neck strain watching them all in a 3-2 upset loss to Saydel, the team got back to bashing line drives and causing headaches on opposing pitchers en route to a pair of wins and the championship at its home tournament.
“We saw huge improvements over the Saydel game,” South Hamilton head coach Harry McMaken said. “How we responded was very important … this group doesn’t stay down and they don’t dwell on things. They bounce back.”
South Hamilton (16-7) dispatched Iowa Falls-Alden, 6-0, in a rain-shortened four-inning game to reach the final where it knocked off Interstate 35, 3-1.
And as good as the hitting was at times, the Hawks controlled their foes with pitching and defense. Jessi Harms tossed a no-hitter against the Cadets and Taylor Volkmann limited I-35 to only two hits with eight strikeouts.
Harms’ outing was particularly key considering she had her confidence rattled against Saydel.
“It was really important for her psyche to come out and pitch a really good game because she had an off game against Saydel,” McMaken said. “It was the first time I really saw her confidence go down, but she came back and pitched the way she’s capable of pitching.”
Krista Swenson was a one-girl line-drive wrecking crew in the semifinal victory. Hitting out of the No. 5 spot, the senior turned on an Elise Osman offering and drilled it into left field to plate two runs and give South Hamilton a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
Swenson’s second liner to left in the fourth frame plated two more runs and put South Hamilton in charge against IF-A. Harms followed with her second base knock — a liner up the middle — to drive in one more.
South Hamilton was up to bat in the bottom of the fifth when the rain settled over the field. Following a short delay, the game was called due to the time limit.
Emma Lewis and Lily Skartvedt joined Swenson and Harms with two hits in the clash. Volkmann smashed the game’s only extra-base hit, a first-inning double that led to the first run.
South Hamilton rattled Osman for 11 hits.
The hot bats continued against I-35 (15-7), particularly in the first inning when the Hawks scored all three of their runs to take command for good.
“We started off real strong and hit the ball hard,” McMaken said. “Then we played good enough defense in the game to keep them at bay.”
Four of South Hamilton’s eight hits against I-35 came in the opening inning. Breanne Diersen and Volkmann lashed back-to-back singles, Swenson collected her fifth RBI of the day with a base hit and Harms delivered the dagger — a gap-shot double to left-center off Rylie Gardner that scored two more.
I-35 scored its only run in the third following a double by Lilly Miller. She eventually stepped on the dish on a Kate Stanley RBI sacrifice fly.
Volkmann commanded the circle the remainder of the way. I-35 threatened only one other time with runners at second and third in the fifth, but Volkmann recorded back-to-back pop-outs on the infield to wiggle out of the jam.
Eight Hawks had one hit in the game. Lewis, Skartvedt and Leah Jacoby all singled. Cortney Harris blasted a double.
South Hamilton hopes to keep the momentum this evening when it hosts North Polk in a pivotal Heart of Iowa Conference contest at 7:30 p.m. The Hawks and Comets share the league lead by one game over Gilbert.
South Hamilton and Gilbert will meet Wednesday.
“We have a big game on Monday and that’s it, that’s all we have to worry about,” McMaken said. “We have to come out and play our best Monday night and after that we’ll worry about the rest of the week.”
Saturday at Jewell
South Hamilton 6, IF-Alden 0 (4)
IF-Alden 000 0 — 0 0 1
S. Ham 200 4 — 6 11 2
Elise Osman and Noelle Katschke. Jessi Harms and Hailey Diersen. W — Harms. L — Osman. Multiple hits — SH: Harms, Emma Lewis, Krista Swenson, Lily Skartvedt. 2B — SH: Taylor Volkmann. RBI — SH: Swenson (4), Harms, Breanne Diersen.
South Hamilton 3, I-35 1
S. Ham 300 000 0 — 3 8 2
I-35 001 000 0 — 1 2 0
Taylor Volkmann and Breanne Diersen. Rylie Gardner and Summer Pasutti. W — Volkmann. L — Gardner. 2B — SH: Cortney Harris, Jessi Harms; I-35: Lilly Miller. RBI — SH: Harms (2), Krista Swenson; I-35: Kate Stanley.