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Gaels blank Bulldogs

The sixth-ranked (Class 1A) St. Edmond softball team’s lineup is known for its prodigious power.

For the Gaels to be true contenders, though, head coach Bill Shirbroun knows steady defense and the ability to manufacture runs are boxes that must also be checked.

St. Edmond did a little of everything on Wednesday, overwhelming Hampton-Dumont/CAL by a 10-0 final in five innings. The Gaels’ extra-base ability was again on display — junior Mariah Myers homered for the third time in six games, and eighth-grader Toryn Helle doubled twice — but that wasn’t what caught Shirbroun’s eye as the night progressed and his squad pulled away.

“I though our defense did a nice job, Faith (Shirbroun) pitched well, we ran the bases aggressively, and put pressure on (the Bulldogs) to get us out,” Shirbroun said. “The little things are what will ultimately make a difference, and I just feel like we’re showing signs that we (collectively) understand and value that.

“My goal from day one (as coach) was to be a softball-savvy program. We’re getting there. Knowing when to take an extra base or make a smart play can be just as valuable as (a traditional hit). Being able to turn a (4-6-3) double play, like we did (yesterday) for the first time in years. Manufacturing runs and taking opportunities away from (the opposition). That’s what it takes to be at the upper echelon.”

Myers sent a 3-2 pitch on a line over the right-field fence for the first Gael run of the night in the opening inning. St. Edmond (6-0 overall, 3-0 in the North Central Conference) then plated three runs in the second, fourth and fifth frames to finish off the Bulldogs (2-5, 1-4) via the mercy rule.

Shirbroun pointed to the bottom half of the St. Edmond lineup, as six of the 10 runs were scored by the team’s 6-9 hitters. Payton Bradley, Ansley Oswald, Josie Harvey and Hadley Oswald were all on base twice. Bradley, Ansley Oswald and Harvey crossed home two times a piece.

Helle was 3-for-3. Lauren Gibb and Ansley Oswald added two hits each.

Myers actually saw her early-season batting average dip from .706 to .684 despite going 1-for-2 with the long ball and two runs scored. The Gaels now have 19 doubles and six home runs in the first six contests of the year.

Gibb made a pair of impressive catches in the field, tracking down a long fly ball off the bat of Madison Heilskov at the wall in the third and diving to rob Addison Aalbers of a hit in the fifth.

“Lauren made two spectacular plays,” Shirbroun said. “Our defense was going to get more of a test because Faith is a groundball pitcher, and they really backed her up, which was great to see.”

St. Edmond used small-ball tactics to wrap up the win. Bradley walked, and Ansley Oswald laid down a perfect bunt single. Harvey reached on a fielder’s choice to drive in a run, and Hadley Oswald then bunted to plate courtesy runner Sophia Schlienz. Harvey caught the Bulldogs napping and scampered home on the same play.

Shirbroun (1-0) allowed only one harmless single and struck out five from the pitching circle.

The Gaels return to action on Thursday at home against GTRA. A trip to Humboldt comes on Friday, before a road showdown with top-rated (2A) Van Meter on Saturday.

St. Edmond is also slated to see No. 2 (4A) North Polk on Tuesday at Rogers Park, with a contest at No. 1 (5A) Waukee Northwest next Friday.

ST. EDMOND 10, HAMPTON-DUMONT/CAL 0

H-D/C 000 00 — 0 1 2

St. Edmond 130 33 — 10 10 0

WP–Faith Shirbroun (5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K). 2B–SE: Toryn Helle 2. DP–St. Edmond 1, Hampton-Dumont/CAL 1. LOB–Hampton-Dumont/CAL 2, St. Edmond 4. HR–SE: Mariah Myers. SF–SE: Faith Shirbroun. SB–SE: Faith Shirbroun 2, Josie Harvey, Mariah Myers.

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