A wild night in Norwalk resulted in Oskaloosa falling in two very different games in summer sports last night.
On the Mahaska Zone Network, you heard yet another classic softball game between two of the state’s best in the second-ranked Oskaloosa Indians and the ninth-ranked Warriors of Norwalk. Norwalk came into the game needing a win to essentially clinch the Little Hawkeye Conference title. Oskaloosa needed a win to stay alive in the conference race.
Osky’s Alexis Groet and Norwalk’s Taylor Goode both worked through minimal jams in the first five innings to keep tossing up quick goose eggs defensively. In the 6th, however, Oskaloosa broke through. Anna Jones led off the inning with a lead-off bunt single. Bethany Rowley bunted her to second, and then Kylee Silliman and Aubrey Miller hit back-to-back doubles to score the first two runs of the game to take a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom half of the 6th, Norwalk answered very quickly, but received some help. Oskaloosa committed two errors in the inning sandwiched around a double and a hit-by-pitch. After a hard-hit groundball got through the Osky infield, two runs scored to tie the game, but the Indian defense pulled off two great plays to get out of the jam and keep the game tied. On back-to-back batters, Norwalk attempted to squeeze bunt the go-ahead run home. On the first, Groet tossed to her catcher Alexis Westercamp to get the tag for the first out of the inning. The next batter laid a similar bunt down and Westercamp applied the tag for the second out. The batter attempted to run to second and Westercamp threw it to Kylee Silliman, who noticed that Norwalk sent another runner home after that throw was made. Silliman immediately threw it back home and Westercamp applied the tag for the miraculous double play to keep the game tied.
After that, both teams would again start trading zeroes on the scoreboard as the pitchers would settle back in. Oskaloosa would have a harder time getting that accomplished, as in the 8th, 9th, and 10th, Norwalk would have a runner in scoring position. No threat was tougher than the 10th, when Anna Jones threw out a runner at first with two outs on a ground ball to right field to thwart what would have been the game-winning run.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards for Oskaloosa, as in the 11th, Norwalk would get a walk and two singles to load the bases up for the heavy hitting freshman Alyx Witt. On a 0-2 pitch with two outs, Witt took a pitch the other way and crushed it over the right-center field wall for a walk-off grand slam to give Norwalk the win 6-2.
Oskaloosa has now lost four games this year, and three in the last week in very close games. If the Indians could work on one thing to fix that, it may be making more clutch plays. In each of those three losses, it was defensive plays that cost the Indians a couple of runs and they were unable to respond with the bats.
The Indians now will head to Iowa City for a very tough tournament against 5A schools to continue to tune up for regionals, which begins next weekend.
You can hear all about those regions on BracketMania: Softball Edition this Friday night at 6 PM on the Mahaska Zone Network, 99.5 FM and AM 740 KMZN and on kboeradio.com. Katelyn Buckalew and I will be joined by a few area coaches and preview several area regional brackets as next Monday officially begins the postseason in the area with Class 1A.
In baseball last night, the ninth-ranked Oskaloosa Indians fell behind quickly to Norwalk, and lost 11-5. Norwalk scored six runs in the first inning, and the Oskaloosa offense was able to only muster six total hits in the game. Colton Swanson struggled on the mound, surrendering 11 runs total, 8 of which were earned on nine hits. The Indians will have a few days off, as they are next in action this coming Monday at home against Pella in a conference doubleheader. Pella is ranked #1 in the state this week in Class 3A, and Oskaloosa knows that they are in the same substate group as the Little Dutch so it is imperative to play well to boost confidence before the postseason bracket begins in a couple of weeks.