ROLAND — The Roland-Story softball team picked up its sixth-straight win to start the season Monday, June 4.
The Norse, though, were annoyed. Which was bad news Tuesday for Saydel, which became the seventh-straight victim for Roland-Story this season in a 4-0 victory for the Norse.
“We just looked a little bit slow on Monday and a little bit rough,” Roland-Story coach Amber Doyle said. “We got the win on the road, which was nice, but I think the girls knew we didn’t play as well as we could have so they really sat down and talked about what do we need to focus more.
“And they did that today.”
It was yet another shutout for the Norse, who have allowed just three runs on the season, all of which came Monday in a 5-3 win against Greene County.
Against Saydel, Sydney Mathis pitched four shutout innings to pick up the win while Riley Holmgren threw three clean innings to pick up the save.
“The pitching staff is fantastic,” Doyle said. “It’s a testament to how they’re both throwing and how well they compliment each other.”
The Norse got on the scoreboard in the second inning when Mathis led off with a single and was brought home by a triple from Susie Weaver. Juliann Clark then singled to score Weaver and put Roland-Story up by a pair of runs.
In the fifth inning, after back-to-back singles by Madison Friest and Hailey Louw and then a passed ball, Holmgren coaxed a walk that then brought home a run thanks to a wild pitch.
Later in the fifth, Mathis grounded into a fielder’s choice, but won a run-down staredown that allowed Louw to come around to score and put the Norse up 4-0.
“Tonight was about the third hitting lineup I’ve thrown at them, just trying some things,” Doyle said. “That can’t go wrong as well as they’re all hitting.”
While the offense is producing big numbers, it’s the balanced excellence of the hitting, pitching and defense that have kept the Norse perfect.
“It’s nice with six seniors, I have really strong leadership,” Doyle said. “Even my other starters are super mature. They’re good athletes in all their sports, so they’re fantastic role models for all my girls on how do we approach a game.
“I’m pretty lucky because they do some of the coaching themselves, too. They’re good about asking me questions and thinking about things and what strategy could we use.”
It’s an approach to the game that started months ago and has carried through.
“We start hitting and pitching in January two times a week,” Doyle said, “and their focus was on ‘What are my strengths and what are my weaknesses? How can I use my gym time well? If I’m struggling with throwing, is there a space I can go throw? If I’m struggling with sliding, is there a splace I can go sliding?’
“We really put it on them. You go take the time to figure out what you need to work on and you set it up because it’s your time. They took that to heart.”
Now the Norse are 7-0 and ranked 11th in Class 3A with a boost sure to come this week.
“Much better approach tonight,” Doyle said. “That was a good solid win against a scrappy team.”