ELDORA - After a rough stretch of games last week, South Tama County's softball team found itself on the winning side Tuesday night for the first time in eight days.
The Lady Trojans were riding a seven-game losing streak and had lost 10 of their last 11 games heading into their road contest at South Hardin. In addition to ending their losing skid, the Lady Trojans (7-17) avenged an early season loss with their 6-1 victory over the Tigers (5-12).
"Even though we lost seven in a row, it didn't feel like it, because we were playing so well," head coach Chelsea Ahrens said. "It's nice to get a win on the record and maybe turn things around. Hopefully we can start a winning streak now. We aren't playing as many ranked teams coming up, which will be nice. Maybe we can turn things around and get a winning streak going before the postseason starts two weeks from tonight."
While ending the losing streak felt good, the STC players and coaches enjoyed avenging a previous loss to the Tigers. South Tama lost 5-3 to the Tigers on May 24. STC committed three errors in the loss and gave up runs in two innings.
"It was our third game of the year and there were a lot of errors and a lot of walks," Ahrens said. "A lot of people were left on base and we had seven strikeouts. I think it was because it was our third game of the year. We hadn't seen much pitching.
"This time around, we were able to hit them a lot better tonight," she said. "We put the ball in play and we were patient. I talked about waiting until you see one strike, then wait for a good pitch. Rather than go overly aggressive, we were patient with our bats."
On Tuesday, the Lady Trojans jumped on top of South Hardin early and kept their foot on the pedal. Senior Riley Craun started the game by earning a walk at the plate. She was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from junior Tori Appelgate. Senior Jade Rohach pushed Craun across the plate with an RBI double. Junior Samantha Holtz followed Rohach with an RBI single, scoring Rohach and giving STC an early 2-0 lead.
After scoreless second and third innings, South Tama widened its lead in the fourth inning after two quick outs. Freshman Belle Tyynismaa hit a single to start the two-out rally. She later stole second before Craun hit an RBI single to score Tyynismaa. Craun also stole second base.
Appelgate reached first base on an error from the South Hardin third baseman. Rohach once again came through with a big hit as she ripped an RBI single to score Craun. After Rohach stole second base, Holtz also came through for the Lady Trojans. Holtz slammed a two-run single to left-centerfield. The Lady Trojans led 6-0 after the fourth inning.
"Our big hitters came through with hits," Ahrens said. "Jade had a hit. Sam had a hit. The meat of our order is driving in runs, just like we want them to and just like they're capable of doing. Jade had been on fire lately. I think she has 20 RBIs and the next closest person has half of that. She has really stepped up and she's having a great senior year. Riley is having a great year, too. We're really going to miss them next year."
South Tama's defense shut down the Tigers most of the game. The Tigers scored their only run in the sixth inning. Their leadoff batter hit a single to start the inning. After two outs, the Tigers' No. 3 batter hit an RBI single to end South Tama's shutout.
Holtz struck out six batters on the night. She also walked only one batter and hit one other, which have been concerns for Ahrens during previous games this season.
"She is starting to really come around," Ahrens said of Holtz. "Ever since she got back from her New York trip, she has done a nice job of really throwing strikes. She has brought down her number of walks and it seems like she's had two or less in every game now. It just comes down to fundamentals and getting ahead of batters. She's not trying to do too much and let our defense make a play."