Holton softball unloads on Nemaha Central in season-opener
After a long wait and several practices, the Holton softball team might have been getting a little stir-crazy before their season-opener in Seneca on Thursday.
Then, the weather played a cruel trick and threatened to delay the start of the Wildcats’ season once again. The rain held off, though, and Holton and Nemaha Central played a pair of games in the frigid cold amid heavy winds, ending in a sweep for the Wildcats in a pair of games HHS coach John Deitrich said his team may have played in no matter the conditions.
“We didn’t have any options. We wanted to play and so that’s kind of what we chose to do and I thought we did all right. We hung in there pretty tough,” Deitrich said.
Holton may have gotten off to a shaky start seeing its first actual competition, as the Thunder jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first game, but it was only a matter of time before the visitors settled into a rhythm.
Nemaha Central pushed one across in the first inning before Holton tied things up, getting a run of their own in the third inning. The Thunder would answer back with three runs in the bottom half of the inning, though, to take that 4-1 advantage.
After some struggles in the pitcher’s circle that inning, HHS starter Quinn Holaday rebounded quickly and did not allow a run through the final four innings on her way to a 12-strikeout performance in the complete game victory.
“Quinn went through a bad inning, kind of lost the zone there a little bit, and then she found it and ended up striking out six or seven in a row. I think that made a difference,” Deitrich said.
Following that, the Holton offense backed Holaday up by pushing three runs across in the fourth inning to tie the game up before Sarah Bond, a freshman making her first varsity start, delivered with a two-RBI double in the fifth that gave the Wildcats a 6-4 lead.
After retiring the side in order in the sixth, Holton went back to work in the seventh inning as Taryn Weilert drew a leadoff walk and used some aggressive base-running to come around and score an insurance run for the Wildcats. Weilert scored three runs in the game for Holton.
Other Wildcats making big contributions included Mackenzie Moore driving in two runs while recording no hits. Ashlyn Weilert also had an RBI in the first game.
While the Thunder got a runner on in the bottom of the seventh, Ashlyn Weilert then made a big play on defense and threw a laser to home plate on a ball in play to catch that runner trying to score for the final out of the game, sealing the Wildcats’ 7-4 victory.
P: HHS- Holaday and VanAusdall.
2B: HHS- Bond.
SB: HHS- Morris, A. Weilert, Tanking, Boyett and T. Weilert.
While Deitrich noted his team was a little tight in its first game, the Wildcats really got rolling in the second game of the night.
Taryn Weilert got the Wildcats started with some more aggressive play, something Deitrich said may need to define this team, as she reached on an error and advanced to third base before scoring on a passed ball to put Holton ahead 1-0 in the first inning.
In the second inning, the bottom of the order came through as Brianna Boyett got on base and Shay Tanking followed with an RBI triple. Tanking then scored on a passed ball to put Holton ahead 3-0.
That pattern repeated in the next two innings, as a leadoff walk by Ashlyn Weilert and a bunt single from Moore led to an RBI groundout from Holaday for another run in the third inning before a wild pitch scored Moore and gave the Wildcats a 5-0 advantage.
Boyett and Tanking then delivered back-to-back singles in the fourth inning before Taryn Weilert came through with an RBI single and a wild pitch brought in another run.
Several players made a lot of good things happen for Holton in the second game and that is something Deitrich attributed to the team loosening up.
“I think that, all in all, that was a team win and the kids had fun doing it, so that’s kind of part of it,” Deitrich said.
A 7-0 lead looked like plenty for Bond, who started in the pitcher’s circle in game two, to work with as she made short work of the Thunder batters.
“She had an inning or two that was not her best and she kind of hung in there after she figured out what she was doing wrong,” Deitrich said. “She’s a grinder and she hung in there pretty good. I’m pretty proud of what she did.”
After working out of an early jam, Bond cruised through those first four innings and Holton looked to put the game out of reach in the fifth with a three-run outburst sparked by an error, an RBI single from Ali Morris and a sacrifice fly from Tanking.
Nemaha Central managed to extend the game in the bottom half of the inning, but despite getting into a bases-loaded situation with no outs, Bond only allowed two runs and would allow no more the rest of the way.
The Wildcats then added three insurance runs over the final two innings to cruise to a 13-2 victory and sweep the road doubleheader with Nemaha Central.
It was a good, long overdue start for Holton and while Deitrich noted his team has some work to do, he said his players are willing to do it and believes they have an opportunity to become a pretty solid unit.
“I think we’ve got some really good parts and I think our parts work together pretty well,” Deitrich said. “I just hope that we can weather a few situations and a few disappointments that will probably come about, or a few tough situations that happen as you compete, because we’re going to have a bunch of games here in a hurry.”
The next step for Holton (2-0) will come today (Monday) as the team heads to Effingham for a doubleheader against ACCHS starting at 4:30 p.m.
P: HHS- Bond and VanAusdall.
2B: HHS- A. Weilert.
3B: HHS- VanAusdall and Tanking.
SB: HHS- Tanking (2) and Boyett (2).