MASON CITY – The 2019 Waverly-Shell Rock softball season wasn’t easy.
After dropping their Class 4A, Region 3 first-round game to Mason City in five innings by a 10-0 margin on July 11, the Go-Hawks compiled a 5-27 record.
No matter what the stats, scorebook or records show, head coach Heather Zajicek was proud of her team for never giving up.
“It wasn’t easy for anybody,” Zajicek said. “They really stuck it out and did their very best. They showed up every day, had a great attitude and really worked with each other. Having a season where the win/loss column isn’t in your favor, it can be hard at times, but these girls kept working hard. That’s the thing that is very promising – they are all great individuals. The lessons they learned this year about adversity are definitely going to help them down the road.”
During their final game of the season, Zajicek thought the Go-Hawks had played solid softball for a few innings.
It was during the two innings when the Mohawks put up a five-spot in each that gave her team some trouble.
“For three innings, we played great softball,” Zajicek said. “The two innings that they scored five runs in each, we didn’t play so well. Again, it’s hard to play this game when you give away a lot of free bases. On the offensive side, we didn’t score any runs either. We had runners on. I thought overall, compared to last week, we hit the ball better. Unfortunately, some of the balls that we put in play went right to them.”
Throughout the first two innings of play, both teams were scoreless. It was in the bottom of the third inning when Mason City put up five runs. Lainna Duncan was walked and stole second. Meredith McGee then hit a single and after two wild pitches, Duncan scored and McGee advanced to third. Alicia Hoeft struck out, but she made it on base after a dropped third strike and stole second base. Then, the Mohawks drew back-to-back walks, as Sami Miller and Anna Lensing got on base. Lensing’s walk scored McGee, put Hoeft at third and kept Miller at second. McKenna Mentink’s sacrifice fly brought in Hoeft and advanced Miller to third and held Lensing up at second. A wild pitch would allow Miller to score, while Lensing would steal home to make it 5-0 after three innings of play.
Waverly-Shell Rock went three up, three down in the top of the fourth, while the Mohawks were unable to string any runs together in the bottom half of the inning. Both of the Mason City baserunners in the bottom of the fourth got on by walks.
In the top of the fifth, Waverly-Shell Rock had appeared to start a rally of their own. After Alandria Trowbridge popped out to left field, Grace Mraz hit a double. Marley Hagarty had popped up to the Mohawk first baseman, but with two outs, Molly McNally hit a single that advanced Mraz to third base – the farthest any Go-Hawk baserunner had gotten in the game. However, the 4-3 groundout by Lindsey Miller ended the inning.
Mentink led off in the bottom of the fifth frame with a triple and scored on another single by Brianna Notermann, who advanced to second on a single by Sam Norcross. Another single by Duncan brought in Notermann and kept Norcross at third base, but she later stole home for another Mohawk run. Duncan stole second base and advanced to third on the bunt by McGee, who was also able to get on base. A Go-Hawk error brought in Duncan, while the single by Mentink a few batters later scored McGee to end the game in five innings, as Mason City went on to win, 10-0.
Offensively for the Go-Hawks, McNally led the bats, as she went 2-3, while Jacey Meier, Trowbridge and Mraz each went 1-2.
Hagarty pitched all five innings for Waverly-Shell Rock, and she tallied three strikeouts, while giving up 10 runs.
Zajicek said Hagarty’s performance in the circle was challenging, but she knows the sophomore gained valuable experience this season, along with her classmates. In total, the Go-Hawks had eight sophomores on their varsity roster.
“She [Hagarty] stayed as composed as she could out there, and she did what she needed to do,” Zajicek said. “At times defensively, we didn’t step up and take care of the ball. We’ve talked about it all year that we have to manage the ball better on defense. Hopefully throughout this whole process, all of these sophomores that got experience, it’s going to be great for them moving into their junior season.”
Waverly-Shell Rock sends off just two seniors, as McNally and Jacey Meier graduated this past May.
Zajicek knows their leadership helped the team this season, and she is confident the senior duo will have a bright future.
“Those two [McNally, Meier] have done great things for this program,” Zajicek said. “They are leaders on the field and in the classroom. I’m really proud of them for sticking with their teammates and believing in them and the coaches. They really set a great example for our underclassmen to never give up. I’m super proud of them, and they are certainly going to be missed. Those two are going to go on and do really great things.”