GRINNELL — To take on a season of softball in the rugged Little Hawkeye Conference with no seniors and limited varsity experience is a challenging task, but that is what faced Pella coach Katie Gravert and her staff this year. The measure of the season is not necessarily by wins and losses, but by team growth and this team did grow over the season. They won five of their last seven games going into the tournament and then gave a good Grinnell Tiger team all they wanted for four and one half innings at Grinnell Thursday night before falling 11-1.
Pella’s Ella Corbin and Grinnell’s Ella Grife dueled in the circle and matched zeroes for two innings before the Tigers broke through for a run in the bottom of the third.
Ashlyn Imhoff reached on a fielder’s choice, swiped second and scored on a base hit by Lindsay Hollibaugh for the Grinnell run.
The Lady Dutch had opportunities to score in each of the first four innings, but 10 runners left on base was a real thorn in the flesh for Pella. Finally the Dutch broke through with a run in the top of the fifth to tie the game at 1-1. Ava Curry legged out an infield single and Tori Van Vark slammed a double into the gap in left-center to score Curry.
That run had about the same effect as ramming a stick into an active hornet’s nest. The Tigers erupted with vengeance and took no prisoners in a seven run bottom of the fifth. Big blows for the Tigers were doubles by Kait Kriegle, Imhoff and Grife. The strike zone also abandoned the Pella pitchers as six walks in the inning contributed to the Tiger’s big inning.
The Pella frustrations continued into the sixth inning as the Tigers scored three more runs to walk off with an 11-1 win.
“These kids are fighters,” Gravert said. “I know they will work on their skill set in the offseason and we will get better. With everybody coming back, I am excited to see their improvement. Grinnell is a good team and they just hit the ball.”
The Lady Dutch sack the bats for the final time this summer with a record of 8-27 while the 17-15 Tigers move on to Carlisle Saturday night to face the Wildcats in a regional semi-final joust.
Pella 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 7 2
Grinnell 0 0 1 0 7 3 X 11 9 0
Pella Battery – Ella Corbin 4.1 IP, 4 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 7 BB, 0 K, Hailey Van Vark .1 IP, 0 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 0 K, Kiki Riggen 0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K and Tori Van Vark
Pella hitting – Kylie Tauke 1-for-3, Ava Curry 1-for-3, T. Van Vark 2-for-3, Autumn Blink 2-for-2, Thea Wisse 1-for-3.
Pella Runs – Curry 1
Pella RBI – T. Van Vark 1.
2B – T. Van Vark 1, Blink 1