ALLEMAN – The Nevada softball team is starting to turn the corner.
After losing nine in a row, the Cubs have now won back-to-back games after traveling to Alleman June 25 and knocking off North Polk, 4-1.
Nevada fell behind 1-0 after one inning against a team that had dealt the Cubs a 10-3 loss earlier in the season. But this time Nevada remained focused and got right back in the game with a run in the third inning.
Neither team scored in the fourth. In the fifth, Nevada took charge with a pair of scores and in the seventh they added another unanswered run to slam the door on the Comets and improve to 4-15 overall and 3-11 in the Heart of Iowa Conference.
The pitching of Alex Van Dam was excellent for the second game in a row. A day after defeating Colfax-Mingo by a 4-3 score, Van Dam held North Polk to one earned run on five hits with four strikeouts and one walk.
The Cub defense was excellent behind her as Nevada didn’t have a costly error all game.
On offense, Skye Borton paced the Cubs by going 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI. Kelsey Haley was 1-for-4 with one run and RBI apiece, Abby Van Dam singled and drove in a run, Erica Helton recorded a single and two walks, Tanner Messerli singled once, Jordan McKinney scored twice and Abby Stephenson crossed the plate once.
Bekah Ward went 2-for-3 and Stevi Jackson, Makayla Burt and Audrey Ley all singled once for North Polk. Burt drove in Rebecca Rimathe for the lone Comet run and Maddy Hill also drew a walk for North Polk.
Jackson was the losing Comet pitcher. She allowed four runs – one earned – with two walks and no strikeouts in seven innings as North Polk fell to 5-16 overall and 4-10 in the conference.
Nevada 4, North Polk 1
N 001 020 1 – 4 6 NA
NP 100 000 0 – 1 5 NA
N: Alex Van Dam and Tanner Messerli
NP: Stevi Jackson and Makayla Burt
WP: Van Dam
NEVADA – This time Nevada made sure to finish the job.
The Cubs defeated Colfax-Mingo by a 4-3 score June 24 in Nevada one day after a comeback fell short in a 6-5 eight-inning loss at Collins-Maxwell-Baxter.
The CMB loss was the ninth in a row for the Cubs. But it also marked a turning point after Nevada had endured a couple of lopsided losses to strong Raccoon River Conference schools Perry and Boone at the Kiwanis Invitational in Roland June 21.
Against Colfax-Mingo, Nevada used a big fourth inning on offense to move in front and they withstood a seventh-inning comeback attempted by the Tigerhawks to improve to 3-15 overall and 2-11 in the Heart of Iowa Conference.
"It feels really good," Nevada pitcher Alex Van Dam said. "We’ve been hitting the field really hard. These past two games have been close, but we came back and won this one, so I’m excited."
Van Dam and her teammates had their mettle tested in the top of the seventh inning.
With one out and Nevada holding a 4-2 lead, Colfax-Mingo’s Amy Russell ripped a double down the third-base line. That put Nevada in tough spot as the next Tigerhawk batter – Rhiannon Haley – had homered earlier in the game.
Haley managed to reach base safely on an errant throw trying to get Russell out between second and third. Russell scored on the play and Haley moved to second as the tying run.
Having struggled to win games for several years, it would have been easy for the Cubs to fold under the pressure. But they didn’t.
Van Dam got Erin Earles to pop out to second base for the second out and then Cub shortstop Abby Stephenson snared a liner by Brooke Nicholson to end the game.
"It is a big win for the mental part of the game," Nevada head coach Tonya Van Dam said. "For them to pull that through is a big deal. We have one senior and one junior and the rest are younger. For them to pull together was a huge confidence booster for them."
Alex ended up with one strikeout and she only issued one walk. She was backed by solid defensive play that easily worked around two mistakes to keep on top after taking the lead in the fourth inning.
"I was really confident in my fielders," Alex said. "I just knew we would have it."
Erica Helton came through with the biggest hit of the game for Nevada on offense in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Colfax-Mingo took a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning, when Haley hit a solo shot to left and Earles doubled and scored off a hit by Riley Thompson. But Nevada came back with all four of their runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Skye Borton drew a one-out walk and scored on a single by Madi Highland. Infield hits from Tanner Messerli and Ellie Burlage knocked in courtesy runner Holly Coogler to tie the score.
With runners on second and third and two outs, Helton stepped to the plate and belted a Ries Wilson pitch to the fence in centerfield. Burlage and courtesy runner Jordan McKinney both scored to give Nevada a two-run lead.
"Lately I haven’t been feeling confident about my batting," Helton said. "But I stepped in the box and I just nailed it."
Nevada finished with eight hits on offense. Burlage was 2-for-3, Borton and Highland each joined Helton in picking up a double and Haley, Messerli and Stephenson each ended up with a single.
Colfax-Mingo dropped to 13-8 overall and 8-4 in the HOIC with the loss. Wilson allowed all four runs with two strikeouts and one walk in 4 1/3 innings and Russell threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up just one hit with no walks and two strikeouts.
Thompson ended up 2-for-3 with an RBI, Wilson went 2-for-4 and Russell, Haley, Earles and Jenna Teed each had one hit for the Tigerhawks.
Nevada 4, Colfax-Mingo 3
C-M 000 200 1 – 3 8 1
N 000 400 X – 4 8 2
C-M: Ries Wilson, Amy Russell (5) and Rhiannon Haley
N: Alex Van Dam and Tanner Messerli
WP: Van Dam
2B: C-M – Reilly Thompson, Russell, Erin Earles; N – Erica Helton, Skye Borton
HR: C-M – Haley; N – Madi Highland
COLLINS – A late comeback wasn’t in the cards for Nevada versus Collins-Maxwell-Baxter June 23 in Collins as the Cubs were handed a 6-5 loss by the Raiders in eight innings.
CMB used a three-run fifth inning to take a 5-3 lead. But Nevada tallied a run in the top of the sixth and another in the seventh.
Cub pitcher Alex Van Dam kept CMB off the board in the bottom of the sixth and seventh frames to force extra innings. Nevada was unable to keep its momentum going in the top of the eighth, and after the Cubs were held scoreless in their half of the inning, CMB scored the winning run in the bottom of the inning.
Van Dam gave up six runs – four earned – on 12 hits with two strikeouts and walks apiece, going all eight innings to take the loss.
The Cubs totaled 13 hits on offense. Four different players recorded multiple hits for Nevada.
Kelsey Haley led the way by going 4-for-5 with one run and two RBI. Erica Helton was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs; Skye Borton finished 2-for-5 with a double, walk and RBI and Ellie Burlage was 2-for-4 with a run.
Madi Highland added a solo home run for Nevada. Abby Stephenson ended up 1-for-4 with an RBI and Abby Van Dam tacked on one hit.
Abbie Haupert ended up 3-for-5 with two doubles, one triple, a pair of runs and three RBI to pace CMB. Mackenzie Schmitz was 3-for-5 with a double and a run and Megan Ritter went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI for the Raiders.
Heather Jessen was the winning CMB pitcher. She went the distance and allowed five earned runs with one strikeout and walk apiece.
CMB 6, Nevada 5 (8)
N 120 001 10 – 5 13 NA
CMB 101 030 01 – 6 12 NA
N: Alex Van Dam and Tanner Messleri
CMB: Heather Jessen and Abbey Appelgate
LP: Van Dam
2B: N – Skye Borton, Erica Helton; CMB – Abbie Haupert 2, Mackenzie Schmitz, Megan Ritter
3B: CMB – Haupert
HR: N – Madi Highland