LANCASTER — Iowa–Grant softball coach Deanna Fulton has high expectations for her Panthers this spring and rightfully so.
Fulton’s club returns first-team all-conference pitcher Maranda McCarthy and seven other starters back from last year’s team that went 14–9 overall and tied for fourth in the Southwestern Wisconsin Activities League. With a year of experience under their belt, Fulton expects her Panthers to take another step and contend for a SWAL title this season.
So far, so good. Iowa–Grant opened the season last week with a pair of non-conference victories, then opened conference play with a 7–2 win over Southwestern on Monday. Last Tuesday afternoon, the Panthers scored three runs in the top of the third to rally past host Lancaster 4–2 despite being out hit 9–4 in the contest.
Friday afternoon, Iowa–Grant got the offense going with six hits, including a pair of extra base rips, in a 10–0 five-inning victory over visiting Black Hawk.
Lancaster scored an unearned run on an error and an RBI single by Morelia Galvan. The Arrows (0–2) added another unearned run in the second inning when Katie Martin singled home Hannah Riley, who led off the frame with a single and moved to third on an Iowa–Grant error.
The Panthers put together a big inning when junior Katie Olson and sophomore Lexi Busse drew back-to-back walks to ignite I–G’s third-inning rally. After bother runners moved up on a wild pitch, senior first baseman Malery Peat smacked a two-run double to tie the game.
After another wild pitch, senior outfielder Taylor Liddicoat drove in Peat with a groundout to second base.
Iowa–Grant added an insurance run in the fifth inning when senior Lauren Winkler walked and later scored on a wild pitch.
McCarthy went the distance in the pitching circle, scattering eight hits in seven innings to pitch up her first win of the season.
Friday afternoon, Iowa–Grant picked up a non-conference game with Black Hawk and made quick work of the visiting Warriors.
Peat walked and Olson reached on an error to begin the bottom of the second and both came in to score on wild pitches. Peat added an RBI single in the third inning to plate senior catcher Emma Liddicoat, who tripled to lead off the half inning.
McCarthy helped her own cause with and RBI single in the fourth , and Iowa–Grant delivered the knock out blow with five runs in the fifth. Taylor Liddicoat, Busse, sophomore Trinity Spurley and senior Jaynie Rule each had RBIs in the inning. Rule’s RBI groundout ended the game via the 10-run rule. McCarthy allowed just one hit in the five-inning shutout while striking out five.
Monday afternoon, the Panthers took advantage of eight walks and four Southwestern errors to begin SWAL play 1–0. Stevens belted a two-run homer in the first inning. Then after the Wildcats tied in the top of the third, Olson scored on an error in the bottom half of the inning to give I–G a 3–2 lead.
Peat added an RBI triple in the fourth and Olson ripped an RBI single in the fourth to make it 6–2.
McCarthy improved to 3–0 on the season, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out seven.
Iowa–Grant is scheduled to travel to Boscobel Thursday afternoon.
Iowa–Grant 4, Lancaster 2
(from Tuesday, March 28 @ Lancaster)
Iowa–Grant 003 100 0 — 4 4 1
Lancaster 110 000 0 — 2 9 1
Leading hitters — IG: Emma Liddicoat 2x4; L: Lindsey Wolf 2x4, Hannah Riley 2x3. 2B — IG: Malery Peat, Taylor Liddiocoat; L: Morellia Galvan.
W — Maranda McCarthy (1–0, 7IP, 9H, 2ER, 6K, 0BB). L — Brooklyn Connelly (4IP, 2H, 3R, 3ER, 3K, 3BB).
Iowa–Grant 10, Black Hawk 0
(from Friday, March 21 @ Cobb)
Black Hawk 000 00 — 0 1 2
Iowa–Grant 021 25 — 10 6 3
Leading hitters — IG: Trinity Spurley 2x3. 2B — IG: Maranda McCarthy. 3B — IG: Emma Liddicoat.
W — Maranda McCarthy (2–0, 5IP, 1H, 0R, 5K, 0BB). L — Hannah Butler (4.1IP, 6H, 10R, 8ER, 3K, 5BB).
Iowa–Grant 7, Southwestern 2
(from Monday, April 3 @ Cobb)
Southwestern 002 000 0 — 2 6 4
Iowa–Grant 201 301 x — 7 8 0
Leading hitters — S: Chloe Riniker 2x2; IG: Hannah Stevens 2x4, Malery Peat 2x4, Katie Olson 2x3. 2B — S: Riniker, Mya Runde; IG: Trinity Spurley. 3B — IG: Peat. HR — IG: Stevens.
W — Maranda McCarthy (3–0, 7IP, 6H, 2ER, 7K, 2BB). L — Mya Runde (6IP, 8H, 7R, 2ER, 3K, 8BB).