The Nevada softball team struggled with consistency in 2019, but a young pitching staff gained valuable experience to give the Cubs some positive momentum heading into next season.
Nevada finished 7-21 overall and 3-11 in the Heart of Iowa Conference. That is a slight drop-off from last year, when the Cubs went 9-14 overall and 7-7 in the conference.
“I’m a little disappointed in the fact that I thought we would win more games with the talent we had returning, but we did make strides in moving the program forward,” Nevada head coach John Bass said. “We played a lot of really good games against a lot of really good teams. We are still a fairly young team and I’m excited about the strides they took this year and look forward to what the next year brings.”
The season opened with an 11-3 home victory over Iowa Falls-Alden. The Cubs suffered a 13-3 loss at Saydel in their next game, but came back to stun a then-ranked Roland-Story team by an 8-7 score in nine innings.
Nevada sputtered offensively over its next five games, falling to South Hamilton (8-0), BGM (5-3), Davis County (3-0), North Polk (11-0) and Grand View Christian (3-1). The Cubs snapped their losing skid with an 11-5 victory at Prairie City-Monroe on June 5 and followed that with an 11-6 victory at Colo-NESCO.
From June 7 to June 18, Nevada underwent its most difficult stretch of the season. The Cubs lost 10 of 11 games.
Nevada fell short against Greene County (4-2), North Butler (3-2), Gilbert (11-0), Roland-Story (4-0), Solon (4-2), Boone (10-6), Mount Vernon (9-0), South Hamilton (8-0) and West Marshall (8-0). The only Cub win during that time period was a 6-0 victory over Eagle Grove at a tournament in Algona on June 8.
On June 19, Nevada broke out of its funk with its biggest victory of the year. The Cubs upset HOIC champion North Polk, handing the Comets one of its two losses in conference play by scoring four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to pull off a dramatic 7-6 victory, similar to its win over Roland-Story early in the season.
“The two highlights that stand out are the comeback wins against Roland-Story and North Polk,” Bass said. “Those were two big wins, considering it has been several years since beating those teams.
PCM and Greene County handed Nevada losses by respective scores of 7-1 and 6-5 in its next two games. The Cubs whipped Baxter, 11-3, on June 25, then ended the regular season with close setbacks against Gilbert (3-2) and Knoxville (5-1).
In the Class 3A regional quarterfinals, Nevada received a second crack at Mount Vernon. The Cubs came up short in this one as well, falling by an 11-2 score to see their season come to a close.
As a team, Nevada scored 102 runs on offense. The Cubs posted a team batting average of .232 with a .304 on-base percentage, 22 doubles, one triple, four home runs, 68 walks, 18 sacrifices and 17 steals.
“Inconsistent hitting was (a) challenge,” Bass said. “There were games we would hit very well and have a lot of confidence and games where we struggled. But our approach to hitting was better this year. We drew more walks, decreased our strikeouts per game and put a lot more balls in play.”
Sophomores Addi Vorm, Brooke Jensen, Sydney Mosinski, Madison McGaffin and Ellie Gray led the way for Nevada on offense. Vorm and Mosinski both played in the outfield and at shortstop, Jensen pitched, McGaffin helped in the outfield and Gray held down second base.
Vorm hit right at .300 with a .400 slugging average, .341 OBP, five doubles, one home run, 13 runs and 14 RBIs. Jensen posted a .284 average, .382 OBP, .375 slugging average, five doubles, one home run, 14 walks, eight runs and nine RBIs.
Mosinski recorded a .247 average with a .360 slugging average, five doubles, one triple, one home run, eight runs and seven RBIs. McGaffin hit .233 with two doubles and 14 RBIs and Gray tallied a .222 average with three doubles, 12 runs, eight RBIs and seven walks.
Riley Mailey, Libby Burlage, Emma Griffin, Shannon Loney and Mady Farmer were the senior leaders for Nevada. Mailey played in the outfield, Burlage at third base and Griffin at first base.
Mailey posted a .263 average with a .366 OBP, .325 slugging average, nine walks, two doubles, one home run, 12 runs and nine RBIs. Burlage finished with a .241 OBP, eight runs and six RBIs; Griffin delivered a .312 OBP, 12 walks, eight runs and five RBIs; Loney hit .206, scored five times and drove in two runs and Farmer scored 13 times and stole six bases.
Freshmen Peyton Hanson, Samantha Herridge and Makayla Spaid, and sophomore Aby Doty all had at least 16 at-bats on the season for Nevada.
Hanson hit .286 with two RBIs, Herridge posted a .241 OBP with five hits and one RBI, Spaid picked up one hit and a sacrifice apiece and Doty scored four times and collected three hits and walks apiece, plus one RBI.
Freshman Mayzi Weig scored five runs and had one hit and sophomore Gracie Barloon handled most of the catching duties. Sophomore Taylor Conrad and freshman Briar Crain each scored one run for the Cubs.
Defensively, Nevada gave up 177 runs. The Cub pitching staff had an ERA of 4.26 with 69 walks and 47 strikeouts in 184 innings.
Spaid, Herridge and Jensen split the pitching duties for Nevada.
Spaid went 3-7 with a 3.72 ERA, 28 strikeouts and 19 walks in 58 ⅔ innings and Herridge was 2-8 with a 5.09 ERA, 24 strikeouts and 21 walks in 64 ⅔ innings. Jensen finished 2-6 with a 3.90 ERA, 17 strikeouts and seven walks in 61 innings.
“Our young pitching staff just continually got better and better as the season went on,” Bass said. “They gave us chances to win games.”
Losing five seniors leaves Nevada with some holes heading into next season.
“They did a great job with leadership and taking ownership of the team,” Bass said. “They are truly going to be missed and are leaving big shoes to fill.”
But with more experienced pitching and some talented hitters and base runners coming back, the Cubs have a good chance to increase their win total in 2020.
“We return a lot of players that contributed this year,” Bass said. “Knowing that the girls will work hard in the off season, that should translate to more wins and an exciting season next year.”