Nathan Broek | Sports Editor
Cherokee 0-1-2-0-1-0-1 5
Western Christian 5-0-2-1-0-0-X 8
HULL-There was some doubt whether Western Christian would have its Lakes Conference softball game with Cherokee Tuesday, May 29, due to thunderstorms in the area, but the Wolfpack was able to play the Pioneers and came away with an 8-5 victory. Western Christian had to play through a steady shower of rain the first inning and a half, but the rains soon stopped and the Wolfpack played in mostly clear skies for the final three innings.
Western Christian got the bats rolling right away by scoring five runs in the bottom of the first. Brooklyn Van Oort got the scoring started with a sacrifice fly ball, Chandler Schemper scored on a bases-loaded walk and Sydney Stiemsma laced a two-run single.
The Braves countered with a solo home run in the top of the second and two more runs in the top of the third off a two-run double. Western Christian got two of those runs back with one-run doubles from Stiemsma and Tori Wynja in the bottom of the third. The Wolfpack then tacked on another run in the bottom of the fourth on a solo home run by Schemper. The Braves’ final runs were scored in the top of the fifth and the top of the seventh to account for the final score.
“Great win against a strong Cherokee team. I was happy with the way the girls came ready to play despite the circumstances. With the weather, we weren’t sure if we were going to play or not and what time we would get started. The girls stayed focused through it all and were ready for the first pitch of the game,” said Western Christian coach Micheal De Jong.
The coach also liked the fact the Wolfpack had a full squad for this game.
“The girls involved in soccer didn’t plan on playing tonight, but due to the soccer game being postponed they were able to play. That was a big boost for our team,” he said.
At the plate, Kayla Zevenbergen had a hit, a run and a walk. Wynja had three hits, one run and two RBIs. Schemper had two hits, two runs, an RBI and a walk. Brooklyn Van Oort had one RBI. Madison Byl scored twice and drew one walk. Kailey Heemskerk had one RBI and a walk. Stiemsma had three hits and three RBIs. Madison Vis and Gracie Dykstra each scored once as courtesy runners.
“Once again we put together some great at-bats. We didn’t chase balls out of the strike zone and when they had to throw a strike, we put some good swings on the ball,” De Jong said. “Scoring eight runs on nine hits is never a bad thing. We had a few other hard-hit balls that Cherokee made some good plays on defensively as well.”
Alyssa Buren was the starting pitcher and she threw all seven innings with eight hits, five runs that were all earned, three walks and four strikeouts.
“I thought Alyssa threw well tonight. Cherokee is a very aggressive hitting team. She was able to throw strikes and change speeds better. When Cherokee put it in play, our defense did a great job,” De Jong said.
Wolfpack outlast ELC 3-1
Western Christian 0-1-2-0-0-0-0 3
Estherville Lincoln Central 1-0-0-0-0-0-0 1
ESTHERVILLE-Western Christian had trouble getting the key hit, but the Wolfpack did enough to back up starting pitcher Alyssa Buren and the Wolfpack earned a 3-1 Lakes Conference softball victory on the road Wednesday, May 30.
The Midgets scored their run in the bottom of the first on a one-run double. The Wolfpack came right back in the top of the second with a run off a steal of home by Brooklyn Van Oort and then took the lead with two in the top of the third. The key hit came from Buren with a two-run single.
“This was a fun game to be a part of. Both teams played well,” said Western Christian coach Michael De Jong. “We came into the game very short-handed due to soccer (Western Christian was playing Sioux Center in a regional tournament game), but we were able to come away with a nice road win. We had to battle all night, which was good to see. This game was a total team effort.”
De Jong noted this game was all about the defense. Buren went seven innings with nine hits, one run that was earned, no walks and five strikeouts.
“Defensively, we played outstanding. With four girls being out of position we had zero errors,” the coach said. “Alyssa threw well again. She seemed to get stronger and more focused as the game went along, which is good to see from our senior leader. She threw strikes. ELC put the ball in play and the defense played great.”
De Jong felt, however, the bats are still a work in progress. Buren was the leader with her two-run single. Kayla Zevenbergen had a hit and a walk. Chandler Schemper had a hit, scored once and walked twice. Van Oort had one hit, one run and two walks. Madison Vis walked twice. Hannah Johnson had one hit. Mackenzie Keokhamthong had a hit and scored once.
“Offensively, we left 10 girls on base, which is too many. But it was good to see the girls at least getting on base. We only had six hits, but we were able to draw seven walks,” De Jong said.
Tornadoes in late innings
Storm Lake 1-2-1-0-0-0-0 4
Western Christian 0-0-0-2-3-0-X 5
HULL-Western Christian struggled early, but the Wolfpack were able to make a late comeback and down Storm Lake 5-4 in Lakes Conference softball Friday, June 1.
The Tornadoes got on the board right away as their leadoff hitter cracked a solo home run in the top of the first inning. Storm Lake added two more runs in the top of the second and one more run in the top of the third.
“They led off the game with a home run. Their leadoff hitter just had a great at-bat and she hit a home run,” said Wolfpack coach Michael De Jong. “In the second inning, where they scored two runs, they got two runners on with two walks. They manufactured both runners over and then they both scored on fielder’s choice ground balls.”
Starting pitcher Alyssa Buren soon found her groove and so did the Western Christian offense. The Wolfpack tallied two runs in the bottom of the fourth and three in the bottom of the fifth. In that fifth frame, Chandler Schemper hit a two-run single and later scored on a fielding error by the Tornadoes. The final line for Buren was seven innings of work with five hits, four runs of which two were earned, four walks and six strikeouts.
“She (Buren) started to get a little better control, but our whole team finally settled down in the bottom of the fourth inning and we finally broke through with two runs,” De Jong said. “I felt, in the first couple innings, that we weren’t ourselves and finally in the fourth inning we realized we needed to get going. We just relaxed, got more aggressive on the base paths, got two runs in and everybody just kind of relaxed themselves. With that, Alyssa’s control picked up, I thought.”
The final offensive numbers had Kayla Zevenbergen with one hit and one run. Sydney Stiemsma had one hit and one run. Schemper had two hits, two runs and two RBIs. Brooklyn Van Oort had one hit, one run and two RBIs. Madison Vis had one hit and one RBI.
De Jong was happy with the win, but with the end of soccer season he is more pleased to have his entire team be able to play.
“I think it will help having our full team back. The girls that came in to play tonight have very little (varsity) experience, but they stepped up and did a good job. They didn’t hurt us at all. But getting a full consistent lineup every game, and full consistent team practices, I think, will only make out team better as we go. It’s not an excuse, but we’ve just haven’t had any consistency this season,” De Jong said.
Wolfpack improve at MOC-Floyd Valley tourney
Unity Christian 1-1-0-0-0-4-X 6
Western Christian 0-0-2-4-3-0-X 9
Western Christian 0-1-3-2-0-0-X 6
Kingsley-Pierson 4-2-0-3-0-0-X 9
ORANGE CITY-The Western Christian softball team split two games at the annual MOC-Floyd Valley softball tournament Saturday, June 2, but the Wolfpack left the tournament feeling like they got better as a team.
The first contest of the afternoon was with arch-rival Unity Christian and Western Christian downed the Knights 9-6. Unity Christian took the early lead with single runs in the first and second innings, before the Wolfpack tied the game with two in the bottom of the third and claimed the lead with four in the bottom of the fourth. In that four-run inning, Tori Wynja hit a one-run single, Chandler Schemper hit a sacrifice fly ball and Brooklyn Van Oort blasted a two-run home run.
Western Christian then put three more runs on the board in the bottom of the sixth, before the Knights attempted a comeback in the top of the seventh but the Wolfpack were able to hold Unity Christian to four runs to claim the three-run win as the game was called due to a time limit.
Alyssa Buren took the circle as the starting pitcher for this game and threw five innings with two runs of which one was earned, three walks and four strikeouts. Kayla Zevenbergen threw the final frame in relief with three hits, four runs of which one was earned, no walks and one strikeout.
“It was a slow start for Western. Alyssa’s control was a little off early in the game. She walked the first batter of the second inning who also later scored. She was able to settle down and retire the next nine batters without giving up a hit. It was good to see her settle down and make the necessary adjustments to give her team a chance to win the game,” said Wolfpack coach Michael De Jong.
“Kayla Zevenbergen came into pitch in the sixth inning and she did what we asked her to do,” De Jong continued. “She came in and threw strikes. Unity was able to get four runs on three hits, only one run was earned. We had a few defensive lapses that inning, allowing Unity to get back in the game.”
Offensively, Zevenbergen had one walk and scored once. Wynja had a hit, two runs, an RBI, two steals and a walk. Buren had two hits with one hit being a double, one run, four RBIs and a walk. Schemper had a hit, two runs, a steal and two walks. Van Oort had a hit which was her home run, two RBIs and a walk. Kailey Heemskerk had a hit and walked once. Sydney Stiemsma had a run and a walk.
“Going forward, for us to continue to grow as a team, we can’t allow mental lapses late in the game no matter the score. It was still a good win for us to start the tournament,” De Jong said.
The second and final game of the afternoon was pegged against Kingsley-Pierson and the Wolfpack came up short 9-6. The Panthers were the home team and they scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning. Western Christian countered with one run in the top of the second, but Kingsley-Pierson tacked on two more runs in the bottom half to make the score 6-1.
The Wolfpack, however, had another quick response with three runs in the top of the third. Gracie Dykstra scored on an error by the Panther’s third baseman as Dykstra came in earlier in the frame as a courtesy runner. Buren then drove home the final two runs with a two-run home run. Western Christian scored two more to tie the game at 6 in the top of the fourth. Both runs came off a two-run home run by Heemskerk. Kingsley-Pierson, however, scored three runs in the bottom half of the fourth and that proved to be enough as neither team scored any runs in the fifth and sixth, before the game was called due to the time limit.
Buren was in the pitching circle and she threw all six innings with eight hits, nine runs of which four were earned, two walks and six strikeouts.
“Kingsley came out swinging and jumped on us early with four runs in the first inning. We weren’t quite as sharp as we needed to be to start the game. We made some adjustments to our pitching and Alyssa really threw well the rest of the game,” De Jong said.
But De Jong had no excuses for his team giving up five unearned runs.
“Defense let us down this game. I was proud of the way we battled back offensively to tie the game at 6 in the top of the fourth on a two-run home run by Kailey Heemskerk,” De Jong said. “(But) We committed three errors in the game, which is too many.”
The final offensive numbers had Zevenbergen with a hit and a steal. Wynja had two hits and one run. Buren had two hits with one hit being a double on top of her home run. She also scored twice and drove in two. Van Oort had one hit. Madison Byl had one walk and a run. Heemskerk hit her home run and drove in two. Stiemsma had two hits with one hit being a double and scored once.
“Overall, I think it was a good day for our girls. It was a good chance for the girls to get some good at-bats in today. We were disappointed to not win the last game, but we learned some valuable lessons that should only help us down the road,” De Jong said.