Creston swept a doubleheader at home Thursday, beating St. Albert 4-3 in Game 1 and 8-2 in Game 2.
In the opener, it was a pitcher’s duel up until the top of the fourth when St. Albert broke a scoreless tie to make it 2-0.
The Saintes tacked on another run in the sixth, putting Creston back three to start the bottom of the seventh.
From there, a comeback started.
A leadoff double from Morgan Driskell preceded a Halle Evans single that scored Driskell. Evans took second on the throw home, and was replaced by Tristen Rice at second base.
With pitcher Keely Coen up to bat, Rice turned on the jets and scored from second on a blooping base hit into center field to make it 3-2.
Sara Keeler doubled off the left field wall to score pinch runner Jacy Kralik, making it a tie game at 3-3. With an intentional walk to Peyton Rice, Gracie Hagle was put in a position to walk it off with the bases loaded.
Hagle didn’t disappoint, hammering a ball between third and shortstop to score pinch runner Braelyn Baker.
Creston knew, trailing by three, base runners were a premium against St. Albert’s sneaky and crafty Alexis Narmi.
“I felt kind of good about it,” said Creston head coach Mike McCabe on trailing 3-0 in the seventh inning. “I just said we need runners. I thought she (Alexis Narmi) was really good, kind of deceiving. ... She’s been very effective this year. ... We got it going with Morgan, then Halle, ... then Gracie had that big base hit.”
Also credited with a hit in the comeback inning was Katie Adair, who was lifted for Baker as the winning run. Kralik pinch ran for Coen and tallied a run. Of the four runs scored, three were by pinch runners.
Keeler finished her night 3-for-4 with two doubles. Peyton Rice had a single and Hagle had two singles and two RBIs. In total, the Panthers had 11 hits.
“We stuck with it tonight. We didn’t give in, battled to the very end, and fortunately were able to put together that inning,” McCabe said.
Pouring it on
Creston was slow out of the gate in Game 2, similar to the first innings of Game 1, but the bats weren’t quiet very long.
A three-run inning in the bottom of the third put Creston ahead, and everything else was extra en route to the 8-2 win.
A four-run fourth inning and a one-run fifth solidified a lead going into the top of the seventh, where St. Albert made Creston sweat a little bit, but ran out of outs.
The win came off a three RBI outing from Nevaeh Randall, who went 2-for-4. Hagle and Keeler also had two hits with Keeler driving in two.
Hagle, Randall, Driskell and Emma Hanson each had doubles.
Pitching was excellent Thursday night, said McCabe, with Coen getting high remarks for her control before the game had started. Gillam, who entered in the final inning for Game 1 before going the distance in Game 2, was equally as impressive as her freshman counterpart.
“Keely, right away the first comment from Peyton (Rice) out of the bullpen was that she’s way better on location tonight,” said McCabe. “That’s important. I think they both focused pretty good tonight. ... Certainly they’ve got to know now that they don’t have it all figured out yet just because it happened tonight. I thought Keely threw real well, ... (Gillam) came back and did a nice job in Game 2.”
Coen’s night ended after 6 1/3 innings pitched. She struck out three and walked one. Gillam pitched 2/3 of an inning in Game 1 and took the win.
In Game 2, Gillam pitched seven innings with one strike out for her second decision win of the night.
The two wins against St. Albert are ones McCabe is happy about, not only because they’re important conference wins, but because they’re against a team this is quietly rising in the conference.
“They’ve maybe got as good of an infield – five players from catcher all the way around – as there is,” said McCabe. “These two (third baseman Lainey Sheffield and shortstop Shelby Hatcher), holy cow, I’d take them in a second. ... They’re much improved and good for them, because (Lyndsay Daley) is a really good coach and they’ve struggled getting kids out.
“It’s a good win. Certainly hard earned too,” McCabe said.
UP NEXT – Creston takes on Kuemper Catholic at home Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
Creston 4, St. Albert 3
R H E
SA 000 201 0 — 3 8 0
CR 000 000 4 — 4 11 2
CR: Keely Coen 6 1/3IP 3K 1BB, Haylee Gillam 2/3IP and Peyton Rice. SA: Alexis Narmi 6IP 2K 2BB and Bella Dingus. W - Gillam. L - Narmi. HR — None. 3B — None. 2B —SA: Olivia Barnes, Shelby Hatcher. CR: Sara Keeler (2), Morgan Driskell, Halle Evans. RBI — SA: CR: Gracie Hagle (1), Coen (1), Keeler (1), Evans (1). Multiple hits — SA: Hatcher (2). CR: Keeler (3), Hagle (2), Evans (2).
Creston 8, St. Albert 2
R H E
SH 000 000 2 — 2 5 2
CR 003 410 X — 8 10 4
CR: Haylee Gillam 7IP 1K and Peyton Rice. SA: Jessica McMartin 4IP 1K 3BB, 2IP 1K 1BB and Bella Dingus. W - Gillam. L - McMartin. HR — None. 3B — None. 2B —SA: Lainey Sheffield. CR: Gracie Hagle, Nevaeh Randall, Emma Hanson, Morgan Driskell. RBI — SA: Sarah Eggerling. CR: Randall (3), Hagle (2), Peyton Rice, Hanson, Evans. Multiple hits — SA: Sheffield (2), Eggerling (2). CR: Keeler (2), Hagle (2), Hanson (2).