July 18, 2024

NV softball plays ranked foes and a battle with Mount Ayr

Nodaway Valley's Taylor Laughery makes a play at second base during the Wolverine's game vs Earlham.

MOUNT AYR - The 2024 softball season for Nodaway Valley is underway after losing time due to recovery from the May 21 tornado.

Last week, saw the team play three of their four regularly scheduled ball games. Though the team is still looking for their first win of the year, all three games were exciting ones. The Wolverines began their season on Wednesday, June 5 at home against state-ranked Earlham. The team was to restart the 2024 season on Tuesday, June 4, but the weather postponed their opener with SE Warren. A second game with state-ranked Griswold was next followed by a thrilling extra-inning game in Mount Ayr. Nodaway Valley fell to Earlham 15-5, Griswold 4-0, and Mount Ayr 9-8 in eight innings.

Nodaway Valley will be back on the field this week playing every night but Monday. The Wolverines were home on Tuesday, June 11 with Bedford and Wednesday, June 12 with West Central Valley. The Wolverines are at SW Valley on Thursday and home again Friday against East Union. Saturday, Nodaway Valley plays at the Orient-Macksburg tournament where they play at least two games.

A promising game against Class 1A No. 8 Earlham ended with a 15-5 Cardinals win, but the game went the full seven innings and the score was much closer than the final. The Wolverines scored the first runs in the bottom of the first inning after sending six batters to the plate. Taylor Laughery and Jorja Holliday each scored on a two-out passed ball by the Cardinals from third and second base for the runs. Earlham scored a single run in the second and two in the top of the third to grab a 3-2 lead. The Wolverines answered in the bottom of the third. Izzy Eisbach led off with a walk and scored on a two-out ball put in play by Kynnady Van Eaton that was ruled an error, to tie the game at 3. Earlham started to distance themselves in the top of the fourth and fifth innings scoring a combined six runs to take a 9-4 lead.

The Wolverines didn’t quit, scoring a run in the bottom of the sixth inning to draw closer at 9-5. The bottom of the batting order started the rally as sophomores Kacie Ford and Caroline Britten reached base to lead off the inning. Ford would score the run later on another passed ball by Earlham.

The Cardinals would take control of the game in the top of the seventh, plating six runs to get the 10-run margin, 15-5. All of the runs came with one-out, as outs eluded the Wolverines. Earlham sent 12 batters to the plate in the inning.

Co-head coach Ryan Zenor said that his team is young, and improving each day.

“We have four returners and our whole outfield is replaced from last year. In our preseason we saw a lot of good things from our younger kids. We have two seniors and no juniors. We are a very young team, but getting better each day,” he said.

“We started with our first games against ranked 1A teams. We played teams that have had 10 or so games and players with around 40 at-bats. Our kids have not. Earlham was a stout team. Coach Eisbach and I were happy. We were down four going to the seventh and we had some errors. That score was not how we played,” said Zenor.

Holliday took the loss after pitching seven innings and striking out seven. She gave up seven runs, but only two were earned. Nodaway Valley had six hits in the game. Holliday was 2-3 with a pair of singles while Addison Glade was 2-3 with a single and solo home run. Other hits were from Kynnady Van Eaton and Kacie Ford. Taylor Laughery, Izzy Eisbach, Holliday, Van Eaton, and Caroline Britten all reached base with walks. The loss was the third straight by NV to Earlham since the Wolverine’s last win in June 2022.

The next night, the Wolverines traveled to Griswold. Griswold was playing in their 11th game, the Wolverines, their second. The Tigers were ranked No. 12 in Class 1A at the time of the game.

The Griswold Tigers are currently locked in a battle atop the Corner Conference with Fremont-Mills as both teams are unbeaten in conference play. Last season the Tigers dismantled the Wolverines 11-1. This year, the game was a 4-0 Tigers win. Griswold scored first with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning for a 2-0 lead. That score stood until the fourth when the Tigers scored two more to extend their lead to 4-0.

Nodaway Valley out-hit the state-ranked Tigers 8 to 4 in the game and three players with multi-hit games. Addison Glade, Kynnady Van Eaton, and Chloe Rardin all had two hits. Other hits came from Jorja Holliday and Kacie Ford. Jorja Holliday gave up four runs, two earned, and struck out six over six innings. She faced 24 batters.

The Wolverines ended their week traveling to Mount Ayr last Friday to face a team that they haven’t beaten since the 2017 season, a span of 13 games with six of those being 10-run mercy rule games. There, the Wolverines battled hard, scoring go-ahead runs in the top of the seventh, before a Raiderette rally forced extra innings. In the extra innings, the Raiderette would take the game, 8-7. The two teams will play in Greenfield on June 21.

Nodaway Valley scored first in the game in the top of the third on a one-out RBI single by Chloe Rardin, scoring Kacie Ford. The Wolverines extended their lead to 2-0 in the third after a one-out Ford RBI single scoring Grace Kolbnak. Mount Ayr would plate three runs in the bottom of the third to take a 3-2 lead. That score would hold until the top of the seventh. Down to their last chance, Nodaway Valley would bat around in the top of the seventh and score four runs to take a 6-3 lead.

Taylor Laughery led off with a walk and advanced to third on a double by Addison Glade. Laughery scored, tying the game on a one-out single by Jorja Holliday. A walk to Grace Klobnak loaded the bases. Sophomore Lea Stonebraker then hit a liner up the middle for an RBI single, scoring Glade for the go-ahead run, 4-3. That was followed with RBI hits from Ford and Caroline Britten to set the score at 6-3.

In the bottom of the seventh, Mount Ayr would get an RBI single from Kensie Barnes and a two-run hit by Breya Nickle to tie the game and force extra innings. In the top of the eighth, Nodaway Valley would take a 7-6 lead on a two-out RBI single by Klobnak scoring Glade who doubled to lead off the inning. The Raiderettes would fight back, and claim the game, pushing two runs home in the bottom of the inning to get the win.

Holliday took the loss after working seven and a third innings. She gave up eight runs, three earned, on 11 hits. She had a season best to date 11 strikes outs and did not walk a batter.

Nodaway Valley had a season-best 12 hits in the game with all but one of their starting nine getting a hit. Addison Glade continued her hot start to the year, going 4-5 with two doubles and two runs scored. In three games Glade is batting .727 with eight hits in 11 at bats. Grace Klobnak was 2-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. Caroline Britten was 2-4 with an RBI, Jorja Holliday, Lea Stonebraker and Chloe Rardin all had RBI hits. Kacie Ford added a hit and two RBIs. Nodaway Valley was issued eight walks in the game with Taylor Laughery, Kynnady Van Eaton and Holliday each reaching twice.

The Wolverines will play a couple of doubleheaders to make up games that were lost earlier this season. The home game with SW Valley scheduled for May 23 will be made up Thursday when the Wolverines travel to Corning with a varsity doubleheader. The same thing will be the case when Nodaway Valley plays Lenox. Their game in Greenfield scheduled for May 31 will be a varsity doubleheader on June 20 when the Wolverines travel to Lenox. The Wolverines game with SE Warren has yet to be rescheduled but could fit into the last week of June somewhere.

“We had a good week and were looking to get the conference started right. We knew it would be a battle and they would be well coached. We were excited to be back on the diamond. Jorja has carried us pitching. She has pitched so well. We have some things to clean up, but are glad to be back playing,” said Zenor.