By SCOTT JACKSON Courier sports writer
---- — OTTUMWA – It may not have been the same caliber of competition that they'll be facing over the next few weeks in regional play.
Still, the ability to put some runs on the board had to feel good for the Indian Hills softball team Saturday considering how their last two days had gone.
On Tuesday in their first Region XI doubleheader of the season, the Warriors had to settle for a split at Muscatine after stranding 21 runners on base over 18 innings against the Cardinals. Another 15 runners were left as wasted scoring opportunites Friday in a pair of painful one-run losses to Southeastern at Romalynn "R.L" Hellyer Field.
So on Saturday, after spotting the William Penn junior varsity squad a 4-1 lead in the opening game of an impromptu matinee, the Warriors spent the rest of the day making breakthroughs offensively. IHCC used a five-run third-inning to take the lead for good in game one in route to an 8-5 comeback win then batted around in the second inning of game two, scoring eight times to bring the doubleheader to an early end with a 12-1 five-inning triumph.
"You hope that helps us. You hope that helps the girls figure out what will make us more confident at the plate on a consistant basis," Indian Hills head softball coach Jim Overturf said. "You're going to hit every ball hard every time, but there are moments you have to have a good feel for when you're at the plate as a hitter."
As it turned out, the games would be the only chance the Warriors to wash away the bitter taste of last week's disappointments going into next week. For the fourth time, IHCC's home regional doubleheader with No. 15 (DI) Iowa Western was postponed due to weather as the forecast of rain on Sunday forced Overturf to make a call late Saturday afternoon to push the games back to a later date with the Reivers in West Burlington awaiting a decision on whether to stay over in Ottumwa after sweeping Southeastern earlier in the day and hope the weather would stay away or head on back to Council Bluffs.
"It's tough, because you don't want to keep them overnight," Overturf said. "I wouldn't want to be kept overnight and then be told the next day to just go on home."
While Sunday's forecast shortened the Warriors' weekend plans, it did little to dampen the Warriors' spirits following just their third sweep of the season. Indian Hills left just 10 of their 30 baserunners stranded on Saturday against the Statesmen and came up with key contact.
Seven different players came up with a hit that either drove in a run or set up the Warriors to score in an inning, something IHCC did in all but three of the 10 innings they came to plate.
"It's good that we were all coming together at the right time," sophomore first baseman Kaitlyn Matzen said. "Our goal is to string the bats together. Some days the slap hitters are on. Other days the power hitters are on. Our goal is for everyone to be on at the same time. I think we worked together and reached our goal."
Matzen helped spark the opening-game rally for the Warriors, who trailed William Penn JV (0-5) 4-1 after two innings. A two-run double just over the third-base bag brought IHCC within 4-3 in the third inning.
"It definately broke the seal for us and opened our eyes to our potential we have (offensively)," Matzen said. "It showed us that, if we can be on our 'A' game every day, we can play with anybody."
The Warriors continued making contact in the third, forcing a pair of Statesmen errors that allowed IHCC to tie the game at 4-4. Carrie Hudson then put the Warriors ahead for good with a two-run double into the left-center field gap.
Indian Hills put away game two early, batting around in the second inning with the first eight batters reaching base and scoring. Matzen capped the rally by drilling a two-run homer off the scoreboard in left field and would later cap a four-hit, seven-RBI day with drilling her third home run in as many games on three-run line-drive homer that put the Warriors up 11-0 in the third.
"I just go up there and try to get a base hit. If it goes over, it's just a bonus," Matzen, the new team leader with 10 homers on the season, said. "If it helps the team out, it's even better."
Indian Hills (15-21, 1-3) will see plenty of regional competition this week heading down the stretch run of the regular season. The Warriors host Muscatine at Hellyer Field Tuesday for a make-up doubleheader at 4:30 p.m. before road doubleheaders at Iowa Western Wednesday and Southeastern on Friday.
"I'm not one of those guys to ever quit. You can either quit when you get knocked down or you can get back up and fight," Overturf said. "This was good because we need to be ready to fight this week."
Indian Hills 8, William Penn JV 5
William Penn JV 220 000 1 — 5 10 3
Indian Hills 105 011 x — 8 9 1
William Penn JV battery — Veronica Castro (L, 0-3) (6IP, 9H, 8R, 5ER, 2K, 2BB, 2HBP), Diana Cassaro catching.
Hits — Mikayla Djordjevic 3-4, Hannah Lain 2-3, Castro 2-4, Cassaro 1-3, Aylissa Tyler 1-3, Ashley Olsen 1-4.
RBI — Cassaro 2, Djordevic 2, Olsen.
Runs — Djordevic 2, Tori Albaugh, Cassaro, Lain.
Indian Hills battery — Mackenzie Haight (W, 4-6) (6IP, 8H, 4R, 4ER, 4K, 2BB) and Megan Brady (IP, 2H, R), Kaylyn Decock catching.
2B — Carrie Hudson, Kaitlyn Matzen.
Hits — Olivia Starcevich 3-4, Hudson 2-3, Hiliary Pennington 2-3, Matzen 1-2, Laci Moore 1-3.
RBI — Hudson 2, Matzen 2, Decock, Liz Penrose, Kendle Schieber.
Runs — Pennington 2, Schieber 2, Decock, Matzen, Moore, Starcevich.
Indian Hills 12, William Penn JV 1 (5)
William Penn JV 000 10 — 1 4 4
Indian Hills 083 1x — 12 9 0
William Penn JV battery — Katelyn Buckalew (L, 0-2) (4IP, 9H, 12R, 9ER, 4BB), Diana Cassaro catching.
2B — Cassaro, Ashley Olsen.
Hits — Buckalew 1-2, Cassaro 1-2, BreeAnne Chism 1-2, Olsen 1-2.
RBI — Cassaro.
Runs — Olsen.
Indian Hills battery — Courtney Collins (W, 2-4) (5IP, 4H, R, ER, 8K), Katie Walsh catching.
2B — Mackenzie Haight.
HR — Kaitlyn Matzen 2.
Hits — Matzen 3-3, Felisha Durflinger 1-1, Walsh 1-2, Haight 1-3, Carrie Hudson 1-3, Olivia Starcevich 1-3, Hiliary Pennington 1-4.
RBI — Matzen 5, Starcevich 2, Haight, Pennington.
Runs — Felisha Durflinger 2, Cheyenne Ellis 2, Matzen 2, Walsh 2, Haight, Hudson, Pennington, Starcevich.