DARLINGTON – The Darlington Redbirds softball team put a late scare into Cuba City, but the Lady Redbirds’ rally came up just a bit shy as the visiting Cubans held on to post a 9-8 victory in a SWAL opener played at Sieg Field on Monday, April 2.
Darlington (0-3 overall, 0-1 SWAL) fell behind 9-1 after four innings of play before making things interesting with a seven-run offensive explosion in the bottom of the sixth inning to trim the deficit down to a run. Taylor Crist and Lucy Heinberg hammered two-run doubles during the rally, while Brittney Jacobson, Holly Ray and Chelsie Golackson each added RBI-singles for the ‘Birds.
The Redbirds retired the Cubans (2-1, 1-0) in order in the top of the seventh to stay within striking distance, and then dialed up the pressure a bit more after Jacobson opened the home-half of the seventh with a base hit to bring the winning run to the plate.
Undaunted, Cuba City pitcher Kayla Stich shut down the Birds’ comeback bid by recording back-to-back strikeouts and coaxing a ground out to second base to end the game.
Heinberg went 2-for-2 with a double, two RBI and a run scored for the Redbirds. Ray finished 3-for-4 with one RBI and two runs scored, while Jacobson went 2-for-4 with one RBI and Crist added a double, a run and three RBI.
Courtney Busch ripped RBI-doubles for the Cubans in their four-run outbursts in the first and fourth innings, and Kiera Holzemer drilled a two-run home run in the fourth for the guests.
Annie Cerjak drove in two runs, while Stich and Teegan Graber each scored twice for the Cubans, who picked up the first conference coaching victory for new head coach John Sturtz against his alma mater. Sturtz graduated from Darlington in 2012.
Stich opened the game in the circle and allowed one run over four innings before handing the ball over to reliever Madison Calvert in the fifth. Calvert got into trouble in the sixth, giving up seven runs on five hits and three walks, which led to Stich being called back into the circle to finish the game.
Stich got the final out of the sixth with the tying run in scoring position, and then worked a scoreless seventh to save her own victory. She surrendered one run on five hits and a walk over five and a third innings of work, and finished with six strikeouts.
Alyssa Tuescher (0-3) gave up nine runs (four earned) on six hits and six walks with one K in the loss. She finished the game by retiring the final eight Cuban batters in order.
“Our goal this year is to compete in every game and day-to-day get better. We’ve had a couple of tough games to start the season. I told them if they continue to put the ball in play and make plays on defense to help our pitcher our, you’re going to compete and be in games,” said head coach Molly Rice. “They got to see that play off tonight, which brought some good energy to the team. Now, hopefully, we can go with that energy into the next few games.”
Darlington opened the season with a pair of non-conference road losses last week, falling 15-3 to Pecatonica on Tuesday, March 27, and then getting blanked 14-0 in five innings against Barneveld on Thursday, March 29.
Bethany McDonald ripped a triple, drove in a run and scored another for the Redbirds against the Vikings on Tuesday. Chloe Muhlstein scored a run and drove in a run in that game, and she also drilled a double in Thursday’s game at Barneveld.
Ninah McKoen went 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored while earning the win in the circle for the Vikings. Lexi McSherry went 2-for-3 with three RBI and two runs for Pec.
Jessica Walker blasted a solo home run in the first inning and a grand slam home run in the second to lead the Golden Eagles on Thursday.
Darlington has upcoming SWAL games scheduled at home against Boscobel on Thursday, April 5, at 5 p.m., and at Southwestern on Monday, April 9, at 4:30 p.m.
Cuba City…… 401 400 0 – 9 6 1
Darlington….. 001 007 0 – 8 10 5
Leading Hitters: Lucy Heinberg 2x2, Brittney Jacobson 2x4, Holly Ray 3x4. 2B– Heinberg, Taylor Crist.
WP- Stich. LP- Alyssa Tuescher.
At Darlington, on Monday, April 2
Darlington…. 100 400 0 – 5 2 4
Pecatonica… 020 623 x – 13 6 1
Leading hitters: 3B- Bethany McDonald.
WP- McKeon. LP- Alyssa Tuescher.
At Blanchardville, on Tuesday, March 27
Darlington… 000 00 – 0 5 3
Barneveld… 244 4x – 14 10 0
Leading hitters: 2B- Chloe Muhlstein.
WP- Hendrickson. LP- Alyssa Tuescher.
At Barneveld, on Thursday, March 29