Red-hot Royal Valley softball team keeps on rolling against Hiawatha
Looking at the product on the softball field last Thursday night, the mismatch between the Royal Valley and Hiawatha teams was clear.
The Panthers were playing the role of Steve Austin, the titular “Six Million Dollar Man”, and were simply better, stronger and faster than the Red Hawks in a pair of 15-0 victories that gave the team its sixth consecutive series sweep.
“We’re definitely happy with the streak that we’re on,” RV coach Corey Katzer said. “I know the girls are playing with a lot of confidence, which in this game that’s a lot of it. If you don’t have any confidence, this game can get to you pretty quickly.”
Royal Valley quickly and confidently jumped out to a lead in game one as starting pitcher Hannah Beam struck out the side on 11 pitches in the top of the first inning.
Then, the Panthers went to work on offense, methodically rolling along as Jaycee Worrell led things off with a bunt single before Leslie Schuetz brought in the first run of the game in the Panthers’ second at-bat, lining an RBI double to left field.
Worrell and Schuetz have been a potent tandem for Royal Valley for some time now and have really helped the team settle into a successful pattern of early run production this season, leading to an average of 13 runs per game.
“Jaycee and Leslie get on base. They can steal bases. They can really frustrate and get to teams early, so that’s been really important for us and I think it just allows us to relax,” Katzer said.
The rest of the offense followed suit as Sarah Beam reached on an error that scored Schuetz before Kaylie Parker singled to bring in Beam.
After another single from Maggie Schuetz, Masey Lafferty continued to deliver for the offense and came through with an RBI single before Hannah Beam helped herself out with an RBI double that helped stake the Panthers to a quick 6-0 lead.
In the second inning, the Panthers took advantage of some errors as one put Leslie Schuetz on base safely before the first two outs of the inning were recorded.
Caitlin Burns then delivered an RBI single and Royal Valley proceeded to take advantage of the opportunities it was given after that as Maggie Schuetz reached base on an error that scored Burns before she, too, scored on an error and Lafferty scored on a passed ball later in the inning.
Holding a commanding 10-0 lead, Hannah Beam continued to cruise in the pitcher’s circle with a third consecutive one, two, three inning and the Panthers proceeded to shut the door on the Red Hawks in the bottom of the third inning.
Leslie Schuetz slapped another double after the first out of the inning and scored on an error that placed Sarah Beam on base once again. After Beam scored on a passed ball, Parker drew a walk and then scored after a single by Burns and an error allowed her to reach home and Burns to reach second.
Following a single by Maggie Schuetz in the next at-bat, Lafferty delivered the final blow with a walk-off RBI double that scored two runs and sealed the Panthers’ 15-0 run-rule victory in three innings.
P: RV- H. Beam and M. Schuetz; Hiaw.- Wright and Bacon.
2B: RV- L. Schuetz (2), H. Beam and Lafferty.
SB: RV- L. Schuetz, Parker (3), Keehn and Lafferty.
Kaileigh Gray-Milligan picked up where her counterpart left off in the pitcher’s circle in game two, recording three quick outs on nine pitches in the top of the first inning and the RV offense showed no signs of slowing either.
Worrell got things going with a bunt single once again and the pattern didn’t stop there as Sarah Beam reached on an error after the first out of the inning that scored Worrell.
Burns then drove a ball into center field for an RBI triple to score Beam and Maggie Schuetz followed with an RBI double. She then scored on a passed ball to give the Panthers a 4-0 lead by the end of the first inning.
Once again, Royal Valley proved nigh untouchable as Gray-Milligan struck out the side (and recorded the second straight no-hitter) and the team kept building on its lead in the second inning.
Both Hannah Beam and Gray-Milligan helped the Panthers play from ahead with dominant pitching efforts against Hiawatha and Katzer knew those two would be key to the team’s success before the season began, though both have also given high praise to the defense that plays behind them, even if Gray-Milligan didn’t need much help in game two.
“The goal yesterday was to show up, play our game and for our kids to do what they’ve done all year and that’s what Kaileigh did,” Katzer said. “Kaileigh just showed up, went out there and she was able to do it in 35 pitches. It was very economical, very efficient and that’s kind of what she’s done all year.”
After Worrell doubled with one out to start the second, Leslie Schuetz came through with an RBI single before Sarah Beam sent a pitch for a ride over the fence in left field for a two-run home run.
Parker reached on an error after that and Burns followed with her second consecutive RBI triple. After Ali Bryan drew a walk, Gray-Milligan then helped herself out with a two-RBI single that gave the Panthers another 10-0 lead after two innings of play.
Royal Valley proved to be an efficient machine on both ends in game two and in the series overall and the team also made the right adjustments to end the series with a bang.
In another nine pitches, Gray-Milligan retired the Red Hawks in order before the offense continued to roll, starting with a single from Worrell and a home run from Leslie Schuetz.
After another error put Sarah Beam on once again, Parker came through with an RBI double before scoring on an error that allowed Burns to reach base. Maggie Schuetz then sealed the deal the same way the Panthers did in the first game, delivering a walk-off RBI double to give the team a second consecutive 15-0 run-rule victory.
“The one thing we were able to do in both games was we were able to pile on when Hiawatha made a mistake. We were able to help make them pay and that’s what a good team should do,” Katzer said.
Those two wins gave Royal Valley its sixth consecutive series sweep and moved the team to 13-1 on the season and the scary thing, according to Katzer, is there is still room for improvement. The Panthers have shown a knack for putting in the work and the coach doesn’t see that changing as the team now prepares for a road doubleheader against Nemaha Central starting at 4:30 p.m. today (Monday).
P: RV- Gray-Milligan and M. Schuetz; Hiaw.- Wright and Bacon.
2B: RV- Worrell, Parker, Lafferty and M. Schuetz (2).
3B: RV- Burns (2).
HR: RV- L. Schuetz and S. Beam.
SB: RV- Worrell (2), L. Schuetz, S. Beam (2) and Bryan.