Oskaloosa’s offense, which had been so productive through the first 14 games of the 2013 season, has gone in a funk during team’s recent slide.
The Indians (16-5) have averaged five hits and less than two runs in their last eight games — five of them defeats.
Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont junior Nataliah Hopkins held Oskaloosa, ranked 11th in Class 4A, to three hits in recording a 2-0 shutout Tuesday night.
The Rockets, who are ranked 15th in Class 2A and are 20-6 on the season, got all the runs Hopkins (17-5) would need in the first inning as battery mate Jarrah Jensen drove in the game’s only runs on a single.
Haegan Boyer had a one-out single and went to second on a wild pitch. Tasha Alexander walked as Hopkins’ sacrifice fly moved Boyer to third. After Alexander stole second, Jensen then drilled a single to left to score Boyer and Alexander.
Oskaloosa had its chances, but could not capitalize on those opportunities.
In the opening inning, Shawni Wills walked, but Kelsie Tomlin lined into a double play as the Indians were denied a chance to get on top early.
In the following inning, Kylie Hill hit a ball that appeared headed to left field. However, Alexander dove to her right and made a sparkling backhanded catch for the second out of the inning.
The Indians then had back-to-back singles by Kylee Silliman and Aubrey Miller, only to have Hopkins get Alexis Groet looking to end the inning.
“They’re very athletic and made some plays,” Oskaloosa coach Jay Harms said. “Those plays helped them in the game. It was a pitchers’ duel and they jumped on us early.
“We’re still struggling and you can’t win when you have a zero on the scoreboard. The last seven, eight games, we have just struggled scoring runs after it came easy for us early in the season. Nothing to hang our heads losing 2-0, but disappointed we didn’t do a better job with the bats.”
Oskaloosa wasted little time at the plate trying to get to Hopkins. Twice, the Indians went down in order with Hopkins throwing just three pitches.
“We weren’t very disciplined at the plate and made it easier for them, plus we didn’t hit the ball hard once we swung,” Harms said.
Rockets coach Tony Fenton said Hopkins found her rhythm after getting through the first two innings.
“She was getting behind the hitters early in the game and they were getting baserunners,” he said. “Once she won that battle, she worked ahead and really did a nice job after that.”
The Indians will take a couple of days off until competing in the Iowa City West Tournament Friday and Saturday. The Rockets entertain Centerville in a South Central Conference contest Thursday.