February 21, 2024

Panthers fall in softball opener

Five errors contribute to 7-4 loss

AMES — University of Iowa shortstop recruit Ellie Lynch blasted a solo home run in the first at-bat of the 2023 season for Ames, and the Little Cyclones never relinquished the lead in a 7-4 victory over Creston in the opener for both teams Monday night.

Both Ames and Creston rapped eight hits in the game, but the Panthers made five errors that extended innings. After his debut as head coach of Creston softball, Dave Hartman said Ames is too good to provide extra opportunities. The Little Cyclones are coming off a 22-19 season and went 1-2 against Class 5A runner-up Fort Dodge last year, including a 3-1 loss in the regional final.

“I will tell you, they’re pretty good,” Hartman said. “They beat Fort Dodge 1-0 in one game last year. Two of their kids are going D-1 next year. (Center fielder Irelan Buss is headed to Iowa State.) I don’t think we were overmatched at the plate. We had good swings and some good at-bats. We just tried to play a little too fast a few times in the field. The only earned run they got was the home run. We let them get extra outs in the innings where they scored.”

Creston fell behind 4-0 after totaling three errors in the opening two innings. But the Panthers fought back with three runs in the third. Jersey Foote and Ava Adamson scored when Mila Kuhns was safe on an error, and designated player Taryn Fredrickson, who later came in as a relief pitcher, delivered an RBI single to left.

Ames extended it to 6-3 in the fourth and added an insurance run in the sixth.

Kuhns, who started in right field and also is slated for some catching duty, drove in a run with a single in the fifth. She finished with two hits in the game. Third baseman Zoey Vandevender hit a double.

At the top of the order, Nevaeh Randall and Foote each reached base on a single and walk. Daile Keeler had a single.

Keely Coen started in the circle for the Panthers. She pitched four innings with three strikeouts, no walks and seven hits allowed. Fredrickson allowed one hit with two strikeouts and no walks in two innings.

Creston plays at Red Oak Thursday.

“Hopefully we’ll relax and play Thursday,” Hartman said. “I’m glad we opened against this team because now we have some situations we can talk about and clean up. We’ll be fine.”

Larry Peterson

LARRY PETERSON

Former senior feature writer at Creston News Advertiser and columnist. Previous positions include sports editor for many years and assistant editor. Also a middle school basketball coach in Creston.