Norse girls drop two at Ottumwa

Todd ThorsonSports Writertthorson@storycityherald.com

The Roland-Story girls competed in the Ottumwa softball classic on Friday (July 1), playing two games against larger schools, Keokuk and Ottumwa. Errors hurt the Norse in their first game Friday afternoon, as they dropped an 8-3 decision to Keokuk. In the nightcap, they battled Ottumwa to the very end, losing a 5-4 lead late to fall short 6-5 to their hosts.

Despite the losses, Coach Amber Doyle was still optimistic and satisfied with her team’s effort: “The thing I’m really excited about with our team right now is that we’re not afraid to play anyone. They didn’t bat an eye at the size or ranking of either school. They got off the bus with a good attitude and went to work. We’re (also) working hard to manufacture runs at the plate, and everyone is buying in to what their role is in the lineup. It’s fun to watch a team with a ‘team’ mentality.”

Keokuk 8, R-S 3

The Norsemen scored first against Keokuk, tallying a run in the second when Juliann Clark singled, stole second, went to third on Jessica Hovick’s ground out and scored on Brooke Huffaker’s single to center.

Keokuk took the lead for good, however, scoring two in the top of the third and adding four more in the fourth. The Norse scored two in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead to 6-3, but that would be all of the scoring for the Norsemen. Keokuk added single runs in each of the sixth and seventh to make the final margin 8-3.

The two R-S runs in the fourth came when Kelsey Polaski and Sydney Mathis both reached on errors. A sacrifice bunt by Juliann Clark advanced the runners, and both scored on Hovick’s single to right-center and the ensuing throw in.

The Norse had five hits, while Keokuk punched up nine. Jenna Clark, Sydney Mathis, Juliann Clark, Jessica Hovick and Brooke Huffaker recorded the safeties. Hailey Louw took to the mound and went the distance, allowing three earned runs, struck out two and walked none.

Ottumwa 6, R-S 5

Ottumwa scored two late inning runs and overtook the Norsemen 6-5. The Norse had assumed a 5-4 lead after scoring four in the top of the third and one in the top of the sixth. The Bulldogs had tallied a run in the second before the Norsemen’s four-run third. they added another run in the fourth and two in the fifth.

The four-run third for the Norse began when Jessica Hovick reached on an error. Brooke Huffaker then walked. Jenna Clark’s single to center allowed Hovick’s courtesy runner Talyn Phillips to score on the ensuing throw into the infield. Huffaker and Jenna Clark scored on back to back singles by Hailey Louw and Kelsey Polaski. Louw also scored on the throw in of Polaski’s drive to left.

The final R-S run came in the sixth when Sydney Mathis singled, was sacrificed to second by Juliann Clark, went to third on Hovick’s ground out and eventually scored on Huffaker’s second hit of the game.

The Norse had a chance to score in the top of the seventh, putting two on with two outs, but a flyout set the stage for Ottumwa to break the 5-5 tie in the bottom of the seventh.

Roland-Story had nine hits, led by Louw, Polaski and Huffaker with two apiece. Jenna Clark, Susie Weaver and Sydney Mathis had the other three hits. Ottumwa put eight hits in the book, as Mathis went the distance on the mound for the Norse. Sydney allowed six earned runs, struck out one and walked three.

“We had a few too many errors bite us in the first game, and after watching Ottumwa hit the ball hard vs. Keokuk, we knew we had our work cut out for us,” commented Coach Doyle, “but they played sharp ball right from the top of the game. I was only disappointed that they couldn’t come home with the ‘W’ after playing such a hard fought game.”

The Norse girls ended their regular season with a 10-19 record, having now lost seven in a row heading into the 3A Regional opener on Wednesday (July 6) against Nevada at Roland.