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Ballard softball team goes 1-2 against rated foes during week

Ballard catcher Brooke Mallon snares a pop fly in foul territory during the Bombers’ game with Dowling Catholic Friday in Huxley. Photo by Joe RandlemanBuy Photo
Ballard catcher Brooke Mallon snares a pop fly in foul territory during the Bombers’ game with Dowling Catholic Friday in Huxley. Photo by Joe Randleman
Ballard second baseman Alex Petersen pulls in a pop fly during the first inning of the Bombers’ game with Dowling Catholic Friday. Photo by Joe RandlemanBuy Photo
Ballard second baseman Alex Petersen pulls in a pop fly during the first inning of the Bombers’ game with Dowling Catholic Friday. Photo by Joe Randleman

Bombers knock off Bluejays; lose to Maroons and Huskies

HUXLEY – It was one of those nights for the Ballard softball team against Class 5A power Dowling Catholic Friday in Huxley.

With their ace pitcher and star shortstop both hobbled, Ballard – the sixth-ranked team in 4A – never posed much of a threat to the third-rated Maroons in a 6-0 loss.

“You can get away with those injuries with some teams,” Ballard head coach Staci Sniezek said, “but this was a team where clearly we needed all hands on deck.”

Ihle threw the first inning and gave up two runs, but it was clear she wasn’t close to top form. Freshman Emi Bendler came in and threw the next four innings and she held her own.

Bendler had one bad inning – allowing three runs in the top of the third.

It could’ve been a lot worse in the third. Dowling Catholic belted five hits in the inning and had runners on second and third with one out, having already scored four runs before Bendler gave up an RBI ground out and forced a pop out to Brooke Mallon.

Bendler came back to retire three out of four batters in the fourth, and in the fifth, she overcame giving up two singles to lead off the inning to keep the Maroons off the scoreboard.

“She’s a good composure kid,” Sniezek said of Bendler. “She’s not going to let you see her sweat. She’s got a nice change-up in there and she can really give us a boost. That’s what we need when we go into weekend tournaments where we can’t always have Kenzie throw two games a day.”

Sydney Fisher showed she was a jack-of-all-trades for Ballard against Dowling Catholic. Normally playing in left field, Fisher filled in for injured Annie Stolte at shortstop before taking over on the mound over the final two innings.

Fisher gave up a solo home run to Dowling Catholic’s Kaitlyn Mauk to lead off the top of the seventh, but she worked around a single with no outs to limit the Maroons to just the one run over the final two innings.

Ballard also stepped up and made some great plays on defense to keep the game from getting out of hand.

Alex Petersen made two terrific catches at second base, where she snagged what looked to be singles for the Maroons. Elli Godwin gunned down two runners at first from right field and Megan Spear also threw out a runner at home with a tremendous throw from center field in the fifth inning.

Mallon was tremendous behind the plate as usual for Ballard. She caught two balls in foul territory and threw out three runners on either pickoffs or steal attempts.

“Alex made some nice plays at second, Brooke was a great leader and got some outs with throws behind runners and our outfield did an excellent job tonight,” Sniezek said.

Ballard’s big issue in the game was on offense, as the Bombers really missed the big bats of Stolte and Ihle. Diminutive Maroon pitcher Claudia Farrell used an overpowering rise ball to strike out 15 Bomber batters and she only allowed two base runners all night.

“I give (Farrell) a lot of credit; that pitch does look like a strike to our hitters,” Sniezek said. “But we weren’t jumping on the mistakes she did make – we need to do a better job of that. She also wanted to get ahead in the count right away so she could use that pitch, and I thought we needed to take advantage of that first strike and get a better cut at it. We need to do a better job when that comes around – you never want to get beat by one pitch.”

Megan Spear broke up Farrell’s perfect game with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning when she reached on an error off a successful bunt. Two batters later, Sydney Fisher reached on a bunt single for Ballard’s only hit to put runners on the corners with two outs, but Farrell struck out Petersen to end the inning.

Ihle took the loss after allowing two unearned runs on one hit with one strikeout in her one inning of work. Bendler gave up three earned runs on nine hits with no walks or strikeouts in four innings and Fisher allowed one run on three hits with one walk in her two innings of work.

The loss put Ballard at 8-4 on the season. It concluded a tough week for the Bombers as they also lost to a Winterset team ranked second in 4A and defeated a Bondurant-Farrar squad rated third in 3A.

Dowling Catholic improved to 8-3 with the victory. Jessica Bastian was 3-for-3 with a double and two RBI, Farrell went 3-for-4 with a double and two runs, Mauk finished 2-for-3 with three runs and a steal and Mackinzie Clair went 2-for-4 with a run and two RBI for the Maroons.

Dowling Catholic 6, Ballard 0

DC 203 000 1 – 6 13 1

B 000 000 0 – 0 1 1

DC: Claudia Farrell and Meaghan McCarthy

B: Kenzie Ihle, Emi Bendler (2), Sydney Fisher (6) and Brooke Mallon

WP: Farrell

LP: Ihle

2B: DC – Farrell, McCarthy, Jessica Bastian, Alicia Crivaro

HR: DC – Kaitlyn Mauk

HUXLEY – Good pitching and a timely home run proved just enough to get Ballard past Perry for a 3-0 Raccoon River Conference victory June 6 at Huxley.

Ihle tossed a three-hitter and she smacked a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning to help the Bombers improve to 3-3 in the RRC.

Ihle finished with seven strikeouts and two walks in seven innings on the mound. On offense Annie Stolte, Katie Ahrenholtz and Sydney Fisher each singled to account for the only other Bomber hits of the game.

Fisher was 1-for-1 with two walks and she scored two runs. Ahrenholtz drove Fisher in for Ballard’s first run in the bottom of the first inning.

Alex Petersen added a walk and a steal and Gabie Doud was also issued a free pass for Ballard.

Emma Olenjniczak took the loss for Perry. The eighth-grade hurler gave up three earned runs on four hits with four walks and three strikeouts.

Ballard 3, Perry 0

P 000 000 0 – 0 3 NA

B 100 200 X – 3 4 NA

P: Emma Olenjniczak and Kylie Brandt

B: Kenzie Ihle and Brooke Mallon

WP: Mallon

LP: Olenjniczak

HR: B – Ihle

WINTERSET – Ballard was unable to stop Winterset from gaining a measure of revenge June 5 as the Bombers suffered a 5-0 setback in a battle between two Raccoon River Conference powers at Winterset.

Ballard swept Winterset last year with a pair of 2-1 victories. On June 5 Ballard couldn’t get much going against Husky ace Karly Olson, suffering its third RRC loss against a top-six rated team in Class 4A.

Ballard only finished with three hits on the night. The Bombers also struck out eight times and they picked up just one walk.

Annie Stolte, Sydney Fisher and Kenzie Ihle each singled once for Ballard’s only hits. Ihle also drew Ballard’s lone walk.

On the mound Ihle threw well in a losing effort. She gave up five runs – but none were earned – on five hits with two strikeouts and one walk.

Chelsie Benshoof was 2-for-3 with a double, run and RBI and Olson drove in two runs for Winterset on offense.

Winterset 5, Ballard 0

B 000 000 0 – 0 3 NA

W 130 010 X – 5 5 NA

B: Kenzie Ihle and Brooke Mallon

W: Karly Olson and Kylie McDonald

WP: Olson

LP: Ihle

2B: W – Chelsie Benshoof

HUXLEY – A big start helped Ballard knock off Bondurant-Farrar, 5-3, in a rematch of last year’s Class 3A state semifinals June 3 in Huxley.

Ballard defeated Bondurant-Farrar by a 1-0 score in last year’s 3A state semifinals en route to its first-ever state title. This year the Bombers – rated sixth in 4A – took down the third-ranked squad in 3A after scoring five runs over the first three innings, then holding off a Bluejay charge in the fifth inning.

The Bombers took a 1-0 lead in the second inning and then put up a big four-run spot on Bondurant-Farrar in the bottom of the third inning. Kenzie Ihle delivered the big blow for Ballard in the third with a three-run home run.

Ballard held its 5-0 lead until the top of the fifth, when Bondurant-Farrar struck for three runs. But Ihle settled down on the mound to shut out the Bluejays over the final two innings to preserve the victory.

Ihle was 2-for-2 with two walks and the big home run to pace Ballard’s 10-hit attack on offense. Brooke Mallon was 3-for-3 with an RBI, Alex Petersen went 2-for-4 with a run, Ellie Godwin ended up 2-for-3 with an RBI and Sydney Fisher singled and scored for the Bombers.

Ihle allowed seven hits, going the full seven innings to earn the victory. All three Bondurant-Farrar runs were unearned and Ihle recorded four strikeouts and two walks.

Cailey Schlenker took the loss for Bondurant-Farrar. Schlenker threw all six innings for the Bluejays and she allowed four earned runs with three strikeouts and two walks.

Annika Ekstam was 1-for-3 with a double, run and RBI for Bondurant-Farrar. Katie Norton went 1-for-3 with a run, Emily Wilson singled, Ashley Burrows drove in a run, Kenzie Adkins scored once and Sam Koehn and Schlenker each picked up a walk.

Ballard 5, Bondurant-Farrar 3

B-F 000 030 0 – 3 7 NA

B 014 000 X – 5 10 NA

B-F: Cailey Schlenker and Erin Sawatzky

B: Kenzie Ihle and Brooke Mallon

WP: Ihle

LP: Schlenker

2B: B-F – Annika Ekstam

HR: B – Ihle

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