Bats come alive for Wolfpack in mid- to late-innings

Nathan Broek | Sports Editor

Madison Vis of Western Christian prepares to take a swing at a pitch during Lakes Conference softball with LeMars on Senior Night Friday, June 29. The Wolfpack defeated the Bulldogs 10-4. (Photo/Nathan Broek)

Western Christian 1-0-1-0-3-6-3  14

Spencer  3-1-0-0-0-0-2  6

SPENCER-Western Christian softball coach Michael De Jong did not get the start on offense he was looking for in a Lakes Conference game in Spencer Thursday, June 28, but the Wolfpack did not take long after that to get the bats going a earn a 14-6 victory.

Western Christian scored one run in the first inning, but the Tigers punched back with three in the bottom half and one in the bottom of the second. The Wolfpack added another single run in the top of the third, but still trailed 4-2.

“Little bit of a slow start to the game. I thought we didn’t have any energy to start. We looked like we haven’t played a game in five days, which we haven’t,” De Jong said.

But after a scoreless fourth inning, Brooklyn Van Oort gave her team a 5-4 lead with a three-run home run. Western Christian then added six more runs in the top of the sixth. Kailey Heemskerk and courtesy runner Gracie Dykstra both scored on fielder’s choice plays. Van Oort ripped a two-run single, Madison Byl hit a one-run single and scored the inning’s final run on a Tigers’ error. The Wolfpack added three more in the seventh before Spencer scored two in the bottom half off a two-run home run to account for the final score.

“I was happy that we were able to eventually relax, make some adjustments at the plate and start hitting the ball hard. I felt Brooklyn Van Oort’s home run gave us the spark we needed and, from that point, we started to relax in all phases of our game,” De Jong said.

The final overall numbers had Chandler Schemper with three hits, a season-high five runs scored and three RBIs. Tori Wynja had three hits and two runs. Van Oort had three hits, one run and a season-high six RBIs. Madison Byl had one hit, one run and one RBI. Madison Vis had one hit. Heemskerk had one hit and one run. Courtesy runner Emilee Heynen scored once and Dykstra scored twice. Alyssa Buren drove in one run.

“We put together much better at-bats and got very aggressive on the bases, forcing Spencer to make plays (Spencer committed seven errors). We capitalized and they didn’t,” De Jong said. “I told the girls after the game that at this point in the season we can’t afford to not come ready to play every game. We were fortunate we were able to come back and get a win. We need to be ready from the first pitch of the game. Not the first pitch of the fifth inning.”

Buren was the starting pitcher and threw all seven innings with six hits, six runs of which four were earned, six walks and four strikeouts with one home run given up.

Buren shines on Senior Night

LeMars 0-1-0-3-0-0-0  4

Western Christian  3-0-1-1-0-5-X  10

HULL-Alyssa Buren of Western Christian is known for her pitching talents, but she showed off a few skills with the bat with two three-run home runs in a 10-4 Lakes Conference softball victory over LeMars on Senior Night Friday, June 29.

The first three-run bomb came in the bottom of the first inning to give Western Christian a 3-0 lead. The Bulldogs got one run in the top of the second, but the Wolfpack got that run right back in the bottom of the third. LeMars tied the game with three runs in the top of the fourth, but Western Christian reclaimed the lead with one run in the bottom half of the fourth. After a scoreless fifth frame, the Wolfpack took the lead for good with five runs in the bottom of the sixth with the big blow being Buren’s second three-run home run.

The final line in the batter’s box for Buren was two hits, two runs and six RBIs. In the pitcher’s circle, Buren went all seven innings with five hits, four runs of which three were earned, three walks and one strikeout.

“She had a good night. I thought she was struggling with her hitting in the last little while, but it was good to see her put a couple good swings on the ball tonight. She relaxed a little bit as well,” said Western Christian coach Michael De Jong. “Pitching-wise I would say, as the game went on, it got better..”

The other top hitters for the Wolfpack were Brooklyn Van Oort with three hits and two runs. Tori Wynja had two hits and two runs. Madison Byl had two hits, one run and a walk. Kailey Heemskerk had one hit and one run. Sydney Stiemsma had one hit and one RBI. Kayla Zevenbergen had two hits and two runs. Chandler Schemper scored once.

Coach De Jong felt this was a good way to send the seniors out in their final home game as Western Christian softball players.

“It was a fun night for them and for everybody involved to end the night that way with a win. It was a well-played game and a fun game to be a part of,” De Jong said.

Wolfpack find positives through defeat

Spirit Lake  2-5-0-1-2-0-1  11

Western Christian  1-0-0-0-1-1-1  3

HULL-Western Christian was unable to get an upset victory over Class 3A 11th-ranked Spirit Lake in a Lakes Conference softball game Saturday, June 30, but the Wolfpack took away a few positives they hope will pay dividends in the Class 2A Region 1 tournament.

This game was a makeup game due to a rainout the week prior and was also played in the morning due to impending weather Saturday night. The Indians scored two runs in the top of the first inning off a two-run home run. Western Christian countered with a run in the bottom half, but Spirit Lake took all the momentum with five runs in the top of the second. The Indians then added a single run in the top of the fourth, two in the top of the fifth and one in the top of the seventh. The Wolfpack scored single runs in the bottom of the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to account for the final score.

The final offensive numbers for the Wolfpack had Chandler Schemper scoring two runs. Tori Wynja had two hits. Brooklyn Van Oort had the best at-bats on the team with four hits in four plate appearances with one run. Alyssa Buren had one hit. Madison Byl had one hit. Madison Vis had two hits, one RBI and a walk. Kailey Heemskerk had one hit.

“Offensively, I thought we had a pretty good approach at the plate. We ended the game with 11 hits. We just couldn’t get the big hit when we needed it. We left 12 runners on base,” said Western Christian coach Micheal De Jong. “We had runners in scoring position every inning but the fourth.”

Buren was the starting pitcher in this contest and went four and two-thirds innings with 10 hits, 10 runs of which nine were earned, six walks and two strikeouts. Kayla Zevenbergen went two and one-third innings with two hits, one run that was earned, one walk and one strikeout.

“Defensively, we didn’t commit any errors the whole game. Disappointed we didn’t walk away with the win and a chance to take the conference, but we still had a lot of positives to build on going into regionals next week,” De Jong said.

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