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Another comeback for Trojans on Youth Night

Ashlynn Ellenbecker notches a career pitching performance

July 9, 2019
By Allison Graham - Sports Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

After an exciting win over North Tama in extra innings, the STC softball team was back on the diamond the following night in what turned out to be another late game, come from behind victory for the Trojans.

South Tama (5-25) hosted South Hardin (3-18) on Friday, June 28th for a JV/Varsity contest. It was also Youth REC Night as several STC REC league players grades PK-5 were honored before the start of the varsity game.

Starting for the Tigers was sophomore Shelby May. Ashlynn Ellenbecker took the start for STC.

Article Photos

South Tama varsity softball players escort members of the STC Youth REC?League onto the field to be recognized ahead of STC’s varsity matchup against South Hardin on Friday, June 28.
Photo Provided

South Tama took their time getting into gear offensively. South Hardin however was able to put three runs on the board by the third inning. The Tigers got a jump start in the first courtesy of a one-run home run by sophomore catcher Faith Owens. In the second inning Ellenbecker blanked the Tigers, throwing three strikeouts to end the side. But in the third inning the Tigers pushed the lead to three after a passed ball allowed Megan Vandepol to score and a sacrifice grounder by Owens scored Josie Raska who earlier reached base on a fly ball single to center field.

By the bottom of the fifth inning, South Tama was trailing South Hardin 3-0. The inning started with second baseman Alyssa Chyma grounding out and right fielder Shelby Slaven reaching base on a walk. That brought up Ellenbecker who picked up right where she left off on Thursday, hitting a grounder that she was able to turn into a double with some heads-up base running. Third baseman Gwen Upah immediately followed with a ground out that would score Slaven from third. With two outs, the Trojans managed to load the bases but couldn't get any more runs across as May struck out Enriqueta Wanatee-Diego to end the inning.

Ellenbecker kept things moving for the Trojans as she made quick work of the Tigers in the sixth inning, striking out three and allowing no hits. In the bottom of the sixth inning, South Tama started off strong with Makayla Backen hitting a ball hard down the third base line to give STC their first base runner. Jordyn Cremeans then reached base after laying down a bunt that forced an overthrown ball to go past the first baseman, allowing Backen to advance to third. May then struck out Chyma for the first out of the inning. The tying run was driven in for STC by Slaven who hit a double down the right field line, scoring Backen and Cremeans.

"When I was up to bat I had two strikes and I knew that I had to either keep fouling off pitches or get a hit and I just remember swinging and seeing the ball go over the first baseman's head. When I got to first base and saw that Makayla and Jordyn had scored, I was so excited," remarked Slaven.

Ellenbecker was up next for South Tama and delivered a RBI double, scoring Slaven and giving the Trojans a one run lead. Later in the inning singles by Upah, Abby Sandvick, and Wanatee-Diego would score two more runs and push the score to 6-3 South Tama.

May and the Tigers finally got out of the sixth but could not get any runs across in the seventh inning, giving South Tama it's fifth win of the season with a final score of 6-3.

"We set a goal early on to get five wins this year and here we are. We're hoping to get a couple more next week and head into the postseason with some momentum. It's nice to not only get two wins but two comeback wins." said STC head coach Chelsea Ahrens.

Ahrens felt her team made strides at the plate and praised some of the batters hitting toward the back of the lineup saying, "The hitters in the top of our order have been producing a lot of our hits this year. So in the sixth inning to see Makayla, Jordyn, and Shelby come through like they did was really great. It's exciting to watch them all start to click and work together top to bottom."

"Tonight we also played much better defense and Ashlynn has pitched very well in both games as well."

Friday night would be a game to remember for Ellenbecker. She led all players with three hits and scored the go-ahead run in the sixth inning for STC. As the starting pitcher she captured the win with a "bend but don't break" performance, allowing the Tigers seven hits but giving up only one earned run and zero walks, to go along with a career high 11 strikeouts. South Tama has not seen a strikeout performance like that since 2011 when, then junior, Jenn Maus struck out 11 batters en route to a 10-2 South Tama victory against Montezuma.

After the game Ellenbecker commented on her mindset on the field saying, "I just tried to make sure I was working the outside of the plate and getting my changeup and rise ball to work the way they need to be. It's exciting to be able to come back in games like this even though there are still errors and our bats aren't fully awake yet. We're definitely getting more confident."

Slaven also spoke about the impact of the two non-conference wins saying, "It feels so good to finally get wins. We're getting better and we're starting to know that and prove it to ourselves. Our positivity and all of our cheering and excitement has been great too. It's showing that we're not stopping here, that we're going to keep going."



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