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Rebels can’t solve Comet offense

July 20, 2014
TYLER STRAND - Central Iowa Press , Reinbeck Courier

CONRAD - Nicolette Simpson understands the challenge all too well.

She faces the Comet offense on a daily basis, though within the less pressing confines of practice.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck got its fourth crack at solving the versatile attack Wednesday but still came away without an answer.

Stringing together small-ball early and big hits late, the BCLUW softball team rolled past the Rebels 10-0 in a six-inning Class 2A Region 6 quarterfinal.

Simpson (11-6) twirled a no-hitter with nine strikeouts and two walks and Nicole Montgomery connected on a walk-off single to score Sara Sharp as the 12th-ranked Comets (23-9) advance to host Woodward-Granger (23-10) in a semifinal game Friday at 7 p.m. in Conrad.

The Rebels (3-27) didn't put a runner on base until the fifth, while BCLUW sprayed 14 hits with an early barrage of bunts to claim a 5-0 first-inning advantage and scored in five of its six at-bats.

"I wouldn't want to pitch against us," Simpson said. "I do it in practice and it's not a lot of fun because we've got good hitters, especially when our fast people lay down bunts. They place them in good spots."

BCLUW put down four bunts in the first including three from the top of the order. Kendall Scurr legged out a lead-off single, Mallory Vawter reached on a fielder's choice and Becca Steckelberg singled to plate Scurr.

Another run came across on Olivia Callaway's fielder's choice and Kate Goecke ripped a two-run double to right field extending the lead to 4-0. Sharp bunted her way to first and Montgomery capped the surge with an RBI double to left.

Steckelberg reached on an error in the second and Callaway crushed a double off the left field fence to drive her in. Vawter reached on an error, one of three G-R miscues in the game, to bring in Montgomery for a 7-0 lead in the third.

Simpson retired the first 12 Rebels she faced before Hanna Christopher drew a walk to start the fifth and moved to third on successive sac bunts by Hayley Weber and Lauren Gauthier. Madison White drew a base on balls to put runners on the corners before Simpson recorded her final strikeout to escape the jam unscathed.

"(Simpson) is a good pitcher," G-R coach Danielle Clark said. "She's got speed and the girls just didn't adapt early enough in the game to be effective."

The Comets plated two more in the bottom of the fifth as pinch hitter Leah Yantis laced an RBI single to right and Callaway doubled to bring the ninth run across. Sharp earned a walk to open the sixth before ending the game on Montgomery's RBI single.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck had been shutout by a combined score of 30-0 in their three previous meetings but entered Conrad with a clean slate Wednesday coming off a first round win over Hudson.

"I told our girls we had nothing to lose," Clark said. "Once the postseason hits, it's a new season and the girls know it's 0-0 for everyone across the board. They knew they just had to come play with fresh heads and that's what they did."

White (2-20) surrendered 10 runs (nine earned) with two strikeouts and one walk in the loss.

BCLUW's early burst set the tone for the rest of the game as Comets coach Casey Moberly was able to pick and choose how she wanted to attack the Rebel defense.

"We're going to take a look at the infield and see if they're playing up and then go from there," Moberly said of her approach. "Early on the bunts fell and fortunately we have enough of the wheels to run those out. Later on in the game we had girls that were feeling it and they were stroking the ball. As long as we can continue doing that as we see different pitchers and making adjustments each at-bat, we're going to go far."

Callaway led the way hitting 2-for-4 with two doubles, a run and two RBIs, Montgomery went 3-of-4 with a double, a run scored and an RBI, while Sharp went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles and two runs.

The Comets face a largely unknown commodity in Woodward-Granger as the two teams share no common opponents. Though the biggest factors in BCLUW's success will come from its own execution, Moberly said.

"It starts with intensity and builds from there," Moberly said. "We've had some issues with execution this year and hopefully that's behind us."

AGWSR 12, CAL 0, 4 innings

ACKLEY - Fourth-ranked AGWSR cruised past CAL 12-0 in four innings in a Class 1A Region 3 quarterfinal here Wednesday.

Ashley Sicard allowed just one hit and struck out six, while hitting 2-for-3 with a double and RBI. Alexa Johnson hit 3-for-3, scored twice and drove in a run, while Madison Fryslie scored twice and stole a base from the leadoff spot. Maddie Deters doubled and plated three runs, Morgan Rose drove in two runs and Olivia Ingledue doubled with an RBI as the Cougars racked up 13 hits.

CAL (10-11) had won five of its last six coming into the game.

The Cougars (25-6) host Colo-NESCO in a semifinal Friday in Ackley.



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