by ADAM GRUENEWALD
The Central High School softball team rebounded from its first loss of the season last Tuesday to go 3-1 in their second week and improve to 7-1 on the season.
The Raiders split a pair of games at Jordan last Tuesday, 13-1 and 6-7, before returning home for a sweep against Belle Plaine on Thursday, 6-3 and 11-4.
In their first game against Jordan, the Raiders plated one run in the third inning and 12 runs in the sixth.
“Everybody hit it looked like or got on base,” said head coach Jon Lambrecht.
Among the highlights were home runs by Brooke Willemsen and Brooke Raether. McKayla Lobitz added a double and Willemsen added a single in the frame. Natalie Stockman, Kayla Leonhardt and Kaylie Brazil contributed singles as well.
Willemsen earned the win, pitching seven innings and giving up one earned run, four hits, two walks while striking out six.
Game two see-sawed as Central put up two runs in the first inning, Jordan had one in the second and Central responded with one in their half of the second.
The Raiders had a 6-4 lead going into the sixth inning, but a 3-run home run to left field by Lexie Erickson off of Natalie Stockman in relief proved to be the difference.
“That was a major disappointment,” said Lambrecht, adding his team left 15 runners on base, eight of which were in scoring position. “That was a game I felt we should have won… Timely hitting, focus and execution, it all came down to that.”
Willemsen went five innings with five strikeouts and three walks and Stockman, recovering from a back injury, pitched two innings with one strikeout and a walk.
“I don’t think there’s anything seriously wrong with her (Stockman),” said Lambrecht. “We’re just trying to rest her up. I think it’s a luxury that many teams can’t afford. Right now we’ve discovered we can afford it.”
Central rebounded in a big way from their first loss of the season, coming back to beat Belle Plaine on Thursday. They trailed by three runs after four innings but plated four runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth for the win.
“They played us very, very well,” said Lambrecht. “They’re a talented team. They have some very good hitters and their pitcher kept us off-balance there.”
Neither Stockman nor Willemsen, who did earn the win, recorded hits in the game, as Stockman was robbed of a home run in the fourth inning.
“Those girls are among the top hitters in the state and to see them get shut down is fairly rare,” said Lambrecht.
Offensively, Tracy George recorded two walks, Raether had a double and McKayla Lobitz went 2-for-3.
“Waiting for the ball, waiting for her to pitch it, waiting for that good hit to come,” Lobitz said of her strategy at the plate.
Lobitz single and scored a run in the fifth inning and added another single in the sixth.
“It just showed we’re a team and we stick together through downfalls and upfalls, we just stick together,” Lobitz said of the comeback.
The Raiders carried their momentum into the second game, scoring two runs in the first inning.
Leonhardt scored three runs, Stockman went 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored and Willemsen went 3-for-5 with a run scored and a double, Raether added a double.
Willemsen went seven innings for the win, giving up two earned runs.
“A lot of contributors in that one,” said Lambrecht. “If you ask me, we should continue to do that. I honestly feel like this team can do something special this year. I hope people come and watch them play.”
Contact Adam Gruenewald at firstname.lastname@example.org.