KALONA — Considering the circumstances, it was hard not to feel good for the Mid-Prairie softball on Wednesday.
On what was set to be an emotional day for the Golden Hawks, a rally in the fifth inning of game two led to a 3-2 win over visiting Fairfield. The rally spoiled a chance for the Trojans to complete a doubleheader sweep after a 9-1 win in an opening game that started at 10 a.m.
Mid-Prairie (5-12) wrapped up the doubleheader less than two hours before attending the visitation of junior student Colton Allen, who was found deceased last week after going missing the previous day. The games with Fairfield, originally scheduled for 5:30 p.m., were moved up so players and coaches from the Golden Hawks could attend the services that started at 3 p.m.
"If you look at the scores, we played pretty well in the first game, so we were ready to go," Fairfield head softball coach Bob Bradfield said. "It is a little unusual to play a doubleheader during the regular season this early, but our girls came out and played well.
"In the second game, we played okay. The pitching and defense was okay. There was maybe a play or two we could have made, but give Mid-Prairie a lot of credit. They kept it close and got a couple of key hits to push the winning runs across."
Fairfield (12-9) jumped out to a 5-0 lead in game one, batting around in the top of the second inning. Ellie Baker drove in two runs with a single and scored on an RBI hit from Shay Drish during the rally, which proved to be more than enough for starting pitcher Allison Rebling.
The junior ace of the Trojan pitching staff worked around seven walks by striking out 12 Mid-Prairie batters in seven innings. Rebling gave up just one hit, including a solo home run to Cassidy Rourke leading off the sixth that finally put the Golden Hawks on the scoreboard.
"I've been struggling a little bit lately working through an injury to my finger. That's what has been causing me to walk batters," Rebling said. "It's just something I haven't been able to fix. It's something you can't really change. It's disappointing when something like that comes up. I just do what I can to pitch through it."
Rebling capped a balanced effort for the Trojan offense with a two-run double during a four-run sixth inning rally. Every single Fairfield batter had at least one hit in the team's 12th win of the season.
Rebling continued to swing a hot bat in game two, collecting two more hits in the first two innings. The Trojans once again jumped on top in the second inning of the nightcap, scoring twice without a hit to provide eighth-grade pitcher Coty Engle a 2-0 lead.
"We've been an up-and-down hitting team all year," Bradfield said. "We're starting to get a little better, especially with people at the bottom of the order starting to contribute more regularly.
"Unfortunately, our offense that cost us the second game."
After scoring twice in the second, Fairfield went down in order in the third and stranded base runners in each of the final four innings. The Trojans couldn't capitalize after back-to-back singles by Delaney and Danielle Breen in the fourth, allowing the Golden Hawks to remain just two runs down entering the fifth.
After allowing no hits in the first four innings, Engle allowed five hits in the fifth including four straight hits with two outs. Rylee Verconde's two-run bloop single into right followed an RBI hit by Kendra Schafer, giving the Golden Hawks their first and only lead of the doubleheader.
"We didn't really have good judgement at the plate," Bradfield said. "We were not taking good swings. When you're facing a pitcher throwing slow and throwing a lot of change-ups, you have to have good judgement or you what happens is what happened to us.
"We did hit a few hard balls right at them, but we also had too many lazy fly balls and too many grounders that were not hit hard. That goes back to our selection and what we're swinging at. We just need to get better. We have some pretty good hitters, but for so many younger players it still isn't quite natural for them. They're working at it. That's all we can ask."
Fairfield returns to this weekend at the Lacey Recreational Sports Complex for the Oskaloosa Indian Classic on Saturday. Before facing Oskaloosa, the Trojans will first take on Van Meter at 11 a.m.