FINDING A WAY
Wild game of twists, turns goes to St. Edmond
It wasn’t exactly a thing of beauty.
In fact, when the St. Edmond softball team allowed nine runs in the top of the seventh inning against Humboldt on Monday at Rogers Park to fall behind 19-10, Gael head coach Bill Shirbroun didn’t even really know where to start.
“To be honest, I didn’t say much of anything,” Shirbroun admitted about the short period of time before his squad’s last-chance rally. “I think we were all a little frustrated by how things were going and what was happening (defensively). At that point, it was kind of up to the girls to figure it out on their own…see if they could get it back and make up for it (at the plate).”
St. Edmond did just that, staging an inconceivable comeback with 10 runs of its own in the bottom of the frame for a 20-19 victory — the program’s first against the five-time defending North Central Conference champion Wildcats since 2016.
There were plenty of mishaps on both sides. Pitchers walked a total of 20 batters. There were 18 errors, and 24 unearned runs were scored. Nearly 400 pitches were thrown.
The game itself lasted well over three hours, despite finishing in regulation play. Batters combined for 19 extra-base hits.
“We never gave up. I think if there’s one thing this group has proven, it’s that they’re going to keep fighting until (the last out),” Shirbroun said of his Gaels, who have won 10 of 11 and are now 11-4 overall with a second-place 4-1 NCC mark. “We told them when we got behind 4-0 (in the top of the first) that we had to get something back in every inning. And we did end up scoring in all of them — just kind of chipping away.”
St. Edmond trailed 4-0, 5-3, 7-5 and 10-8.
Short-handed Humboldt is without its top pitcher, freshman Reagan Lee, who is battling a shoulder injury. The Wildcats were 8-1 with Lee in the circle; they’re now 0-5 without her.
“I have to give Kendal (Clark) a ton of credit,” Shirbroun said of Humboldt’s all-stater and five-year standout, who had never pitched a varsity inning before Monday’s complete game. “I thought it was impressive that she went out there and gave her all in a situation she obviously isn’t used to. She did what the team needed her to do.
“They’re in a tough spot (without Lee).”
The Gaels were balanced at the plate. Eighth-grader Lauren Gibb hit her first career home run and had two extra-base hits. Seniors Kacey Kruthoff and Ella Vratny both added two hits, as did junior Alyson Nieland.
Eighth-grader Ansley Oswald and Vratny drove in three runs each. Kruhoff, Gibb, Nieland and freshman Kaili Henning all contributed a pair of RBI.
Gibb and junior Gracie Harvey both scored four times.
Sophomore Addie Thompson and eighth-grader Elsie Hubbell notched three hits each for the Wildcats. Hubbell drove in six.
Junior Alexis Hansen homered for the Wildcats. Thompson and Clark both doubled twice. Senior Jori Hajek scored four runs.
“There were plenty of situations where our youth showed,” Shirbroun said. “It just felt like at times no one wanted to take charge. We have a lot of stuff we need to clean up from a consistency point of view; we’re not where we need to be, especially defensively. Our focus has been on taking outs away, rather than giving (extra) ones.
“With that being said, sometimes you have to find ways to win when things aren’t going your way. You rarely get away with this many mistakes against a good team. They’ll make you pay. And Humboldt did (by scoring 19 runs). Fortunately, we never panicked and showed a lot of resilience. We’ll take it, of course, but if you want to be successful (long term), you can’t do this to yourself.”
The Gaels return to action on Wednesday at Iowa Falls-Alden. Humboldt hosts NCC leader Webster City.
ST. EDMOND 20, HUMBOLDT 19
Humboldt 401 203 9 — 19 16 5
St. Edmond 122 212 (10) — 20 11 13
WP–Ella Vratny. LP–Kendal Clark. 2B–SE: Kacey Kruthoff 2, Ella Vratny 2, Lauren Gibb, Alyson Nieland, Kaili Henning; H: Kendal Clark 2, Addie Thompson 2, Elsie Hubbell, Ashlee Wergeland, Macey Varangkounh. 3B–SE: Ansley Oswald; H: Jori Hajek, Elsie Hubbell. HR–SE: Lauren Gibb; H: Alexis Hansen.