Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | May 25, 2018

Washington softball team wins first game of postseason

By Bill Gatchel | Jul 07, 2017
Photo by: Bill Gatchel Molly Sparks took to the mound for Washington in the postseason game against Central DeWitt Thursday, July 6. She gave up two runs in the game.

Each game played in the postseason means you have to win to stay alive and that’s exactly what the Demons softball team did Thursday, July 6, as they won over the Central DeWitt Sabers 7-2.

After losing the coin toss, Washington played as the visiting team and took advantage of that by scoring two runs in the first inning.

Both Jessie Buchholz and Morgan Brinning came home on a pop ball to center field by Alexa Mitchell.

The Demons doubled the number of runs on the scoreboard in the second inning after Kinsey Duwa and Molly Sparks came home on a pop fly to the left field gap by Megan Mitchell, putting the Demons up 4-0.

Central DeWitt scored their first run in the bottom of the third, but Washington was able to score again, this time in the fifth inning when M. Mitchell and Brinning crossed the plate on a grounder that got past the first baseman, putting the Demons ahead 6-1.

Central DeWitt scored another run in the bottom of the fifth, but that would be it for scoring as Washington’s Hannah Anderson, courtesy running for A. Mitchell, came home on an RBI single by Haylee Wilson, adding to Washington’s lead and got the win.

It feels good to get the win, coach Ben Obermann says.

“Anytime you can get a win in tournament play, it’s exciting,” he says. “Anything this time of year is not going to come easy.

“It definitely wasn’t easy tonight. I’m pleased at how we played, defensively and in the circle.

“We played air-free softball tonight. Any time you do that, we’re going to be in every game.

“We’ve been playing really good defense for the last two or three weeks.

“Offensively, we did enough tonight. We came up with some clutch hits. Alexa Mitchell had two-out two-run singles for us and that really helped us.

“Scoring early was big. It let us relax a little bit. It was a good effort all the way around.”

Getting runs on the board early in the game was key and Obermann is hoping the girls can do that Saturday.

“It was a little odd being the visitor team on the scoreboard on our home field, but it worked to our favor,” he says.

“Getting the two-run lead right away kind of lets us take a deep breath and get some nerves out a little bit.

“When we’re at our best, we’re playing clean softball. We’re scoring early, scoring in the middle innings and scoring late.

“We did that tonight. We kind of kept scoring. We didn’t settle after those first two. We kept the pressure on them.

“That’s something we’d like to duplicate every time out. Obviously, we’ll take a step up opponent-wise playing the defending state champs Saturday, but we’re going to embrace that challenge.”

For pitcher Molly Sparks, there was some extra pressure while she was on the mound, but she wasn’t worried about it.

“I had some,” she says, “but I knew my defense was right behind me so I felt that if I hit my spots and they [Central DeWitt] hit the ball, my teammates would field it and play great defense, just like they did tonight.”

One important part of the game was for Washington to get runs on the board early and keep Central DeWitt from scoring. Sparks kept that in the back of her mind while pitching.

“I was trying to keep them at zero for as long as I can and our offense just helped tonight,” she says. “They were doing really well. It’s great.”

Sparks is given what kind of pitch to deliver, which helped the Demons get the win.

“I do that along with wherever the batters are, is how I decide how I want to spin the ball,” she says.

“My curveball was working really well tonight because they were staying back behind the plate. It was nice.”

With the team facing Oskaloosa Saturday, July 8, that game will be a challenge for Sparks.

“They are great hitters,” she says. “I’m going to need to really hit my spots and spin the ball that game.”

What challenges does Obermann think Oskaloosa will present Saturday?

“They are well-coached,” he says. “They have one of the best pitchers in the state of Iowa. She struck out her 1,000th batter last week, so she’s tough.

“We had the benefit of playing them earlier in the season.

“They are a different team now. They have some girls back. It’s going to be a tough game for us, but our girls are excited for the opportunity.

“If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.

“They will get our ‘A’ effort and we’ll be proud of our effort either way on the scoreboard. But we’re going there expecting a win.”

As for Sparks, she has some work to do today in practice in order to hit the right spots and spin the ball.

“I’m going to work on my rise ball and probably my curve. I might slow down my change-ups.

“My change-ups are still too fast right now. If I work on that I’ll be ready for Saturday.”

The girls will play at Oskaloosa Saturday, July 8, starting at 7 p.m.

The winner of that game will face either Burlington or North Scott Tuesday, July 11, at 7 p.m. for the chance to play in the state tournament.

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