The Ottumwa Courier

Sports

March 31, 2013

New stars step up as IHCC finishes home classic with win

Batterymates Collins, Walsh key Warriors in finale against Ellsworth

OTTUMWA — For Courtney Collins, finding success in the pitching circle seemed has seemed like an unattainable goal this season.

Fortunately, there’s never a bad time for a fresh start to the freshman season for the Warrior hurler. And on Saturday, there wasn’t a better place to start fresh in her first start ever at Romalynn ‘R.L.’ Hellyer Field.

From starting the season 0-4 with a 9.12 ERA to giving up just two earned runs over 8 2/3 innings over the weekend, Collins made the Warriors’ home-opening Reed Overhead Doors Classic the place to turn her year around. The highlight of that turnaround came in the finale of the 10-game tournament as Collins picked up her first pitching win as a Warrior, allowing just five hits over seven innings while striking out her sixth batter to cap a 7-2 win over Ellsworth Saturday night in Ottumwa.

“After having a bad start to my season, this is a good start to becoming a new me this season,” Collins said. “I’ve lost a lot of confidence this season. This went a long way to gaining a lot of it back.”

Collins’ head coach echoed those sentiments.

“It was good to see Courtney get some confidence, hopefully,” Indian Hills head softball coach Jim Overturf said. “She’s been struggling recently. Hopefully getting a complete game changes that.”

Collins wasn’t the only Warrior player that was given the opportunity to step up and help Indian Hills avoid having a losing weekend in their only weekend regular-season tournament. Fellow freshman Katie Walsh joined her freshman teammate, and batterymate, in getting the call to play after spending the three straight home games watching from the bullpen.

“My playing time is very slim. I would definitely say I’m the third catcher, so I spend most of the games warming up the pitchers,” Walsh said. “Being able to play on the field and be a part of a win meant very much to me.”

Getting to share that experience with Collins was also special for Walsh. The pitcher and catcher who have spent the most time together in the bullpen both played key roles as Walsh provided Collins with a lead in the fourth inning, sparking a four-run frame with a go-ahead RBI single.

“Before the game, I told her that we’re a team,” Walsh said. “You go in. I go in. I very much know what know what Courtney’s strong points are, what her weak points and I know how to keep her calm and keep her confident.”

“It’s helpful that I get to spend so much time with her learning that with Courtney in the bullpen.”

Collins and Walsh had their early struggles, allowing Ellsworth’s Ashley Eisenbraum to score the first run of the game in the second inning on a pair of passed balls. Collins soon found her groove, retiring seven batters in a row as IHCC scored seven straight runs to clinch their seventh victory as another level of comfort helped the Warrior freshman pitcher.

“My parents are here from Indiana. That really helped me too,” Collins said. “I think finally getting to pitch here at home was the biggest thing that helped me turn it around.”

Indian Hills didn’t have long to turn around after dropping their second straight game of their home classic to a potential district postseason foe. The Warriors dropped their second three-run loss to a Missouri school in as many days, falling to Jefferson College 9-6 in a game Indian Hills just couldn’t grab a hold of one night after falling to Crowder 6-3 on Friday.

“I would have like to have gotten either of those games, but I think we also learned a lot about what it takes to beat teams like that,” Overturf said. “We don’t start real fast. That’s a disappointment to me. I felt like we finally came around as hitters, but we came around too late.”

IHCC fell behind Jefferson 8-2 before showcasing that late offensive pop, scoring four runs in the sixth inning to pull within 8-6. The Warriors fell just short in a couple of areas of execution, however, committing three errors that led to five unearned runs while also allowing the Vikings to score seven of their runs with two outs in an inning.

Those were the negative aspects of the tournament, which saw Jefferson scored four wins in four games while pounding out six of the tournament’s 21 home runs to take a 17-2 mark back to Missouri. Crowder (21-9) went 3-1, losing a 12-6 decision in Saturday’s first game to Jefferson in a Region XVI rivalry matchup while hammering nine homers in Ottumwa.

Overall, the tough losses were also positives for Overturf as the 7-15 Warriors go from facing potential District K rivals to opening Region XI play today with a doubleheader at home against Muscatine at 4:30 p.m.

“We’re knocking on the door right now, but we have to figure out how to open it and finish things,” Overturf said. “Hopefully, we learned how to do that this weekend.”

Follow Scott Jackson on twitter at @stjack423.

Reed and Reed Overhead Doors Classic

At Romalynn ‘R.L.’ Hellyer Field, Ottumwa

Saturday’s Games

Jefferson College (Mo.) 9, Indian Hills 6

J.C.    220    220    1    —    9    12    0         

IHCC     110    004    0    —    6    7    3

Jefferson battery — Chelsea Smith (W, 8-1) (6IP, 7H, 6R, 6ER, 3K, 7BB) and Megan Gurski (IP, K, BB), Cheryl Orlando catching.

2B — Christina Young, Amanda Williams.

HR — Williams.

Hits — Gurski 3-4, Williams 2-2, Jett Bouckaert 2-4, Kara Pochon 2-5, Holly Marko 1-3, Orlando 1-4, Young 1-5.

RBI — Young 2, Williams 2, Gurski, Pochon.

Runs — Gurski 3, Williams 2, Bouckaert, Marko, Orlando, Pochon.

Indian Hills battery — Kendle Schieber (L, 3-7) (7IP, 12H, 9R, 5ER, 8K, 2BB), Kaylyn Decock catching.

2B — Felisha Durflinger.

Hits — Durflinger 2-4, Schieber 2-4, Liz Penrose 1-1, Decock 1-4, Mackenzie Haight 1-4.

RBI — Durflinger 3, Hiliary Pennington 2, Kaitlyn Matzen.

Runs — Pennington 2, Carrie Hudson, Olivia Starcevich, Penrose, Jaylinn Tressler.

Indian Hills 7, Ellsworth 2

IHCC    001    420    0    —    7    12    0         

ECC     010    000    1    —    2    5    3

Indian Hills battery — Courtney Collins (W, 1-4) (7IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 6K, 2BB), Katie Walsh catching.

2B — Kaitlyn Matzen 2.

Hits — Hiliary Pennington 3-4, Cheyenne Ellis 2-4, Matzen 2-4, Felisha Durflinger 1-3, Walsh 1-3, Kaylyn Decock 1-4, Kendle Schieber 1-4, Jaylinn Tressler 1-4.

RBI — Pennington 2, Durflinger, Matzen, Walsh.

Runs — Pennington 2, Ellis, Carrie Hudson, Schieber, Tressler, Walsh.

Ellsworth battery — Sam Ness (L, 0-1) (6IP, 12H, 7R, 5ER, 3K, BB) and Aimee Madrid (IP, K, BB), Emily Mercer catching.

2B — Ashley Eisenbraum, Sydney Lehman.

HR — Cayla Bantz.

Hits — Mercer 2-3, Eisenbraum 1-2, Bantz 1-3, Lehman 1-3.

RBI — Bantz.

Runs — Bantz, Eisenbraum.

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