July 18, 2024

Late home run shows the difference

Creston's Taryn Fredrickson rounds second Tuesday with a smile after her two run home run in the sixth gave Creston a 4-2 lead. Creston defeated Clarke 4-3 to end the regular season.

The game-changing moments were few Tuesday in Creston’s 4-2 win over Clarke to finish the regular season for both teams.

After one team had its moment, it wasn’t long for the other to have its time.

Creston junior Taryn Fredrickson’s two-run home run in the sixth inning broke a 2-2 tie. Evy Martin was the other run in Fredrickson’s home run. She started Creston’s part of the inning with a single to center field.

Clarke was making its game changing moment in the seventh. Consecutive singles by Victoria Henry and Reese Shaw gave the Indians a scoring chance. Miah Graves fouled out during her at bat. Lillana Contreras struck out on a 3-2 pitch from Fredrickson leaving Clarke with two outs and needing two runs to tie the score again.

Marissa Bakely hit a single that scored Shaw. Maisy McCoy connected on a pitch but was thrown out at first to end the game.

“It never hurts,” Creston coach David Hartman said about the team learning to play in high-pressure moments, especially since the postseason begins today.

The last two innings were the grand finale for moments that lasted throughout. Hartman was impressed by Clarke’s defensive plays that stopped potential game changing moments.

“They really played tremendous with five diving plays. That’s a quarter of the outs,” he said.

Intricate plays worked too for the visitors.

“They had a great play on a flip at third (for an out). We hit the ball fairly hard, but not much to show for it,” he said about the interaction between the Creston bats and the Clarke gloves.

Hartman summed up the difference for Creston.

“We had to hit it out of the park to beat these girls and we did.”

Creston’s other two runs were in the first inning. Panther junior Jersey Foote’s two-run home run with two outs put Creston on the board. Ava Adamson was thrown out at first. Avery Staver’s at bat got her to second. She was walked but got to second on wild throw by the Clarke defense later. Foote’s home run also sent Staver home.

Foote finished with two of Creston’s five hits. Shaw finished with two of Clarke’s five hits.

The second inning had each team’s batters go down in order. Clarke scored its first run in the third. Contreras got to second base from her at bat because of a wild throw. She advanced to third on Bakley’s hit that put her out at first. Contreras scored on a wild pitch.

Clarke tied the score at 2 in the fourth. With two outs, Victoria Henry walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Shaw hit a double that scored Henry. Clarke threatened as Shaw moved to third because of a wild pitch.

“I don’t think we were white-knuckling it. We just kept playing,” Hartman said.

Hartman said the game showed a side of Fredrickson that is rare.

“I know Taryn was a little upset not swinging as well. She was not angry with her pitching. Taryn is typically even keeled, very stone faced and shows very little emotion. Tonight she was a little angry in the dugout. It had nothing to do with the game or score or other team. She just kept swinging and she got the big hit for us. Sometimes the game rewards us when you keep playing hard,” he said.

Fredrickson struck out five and walked one. Nash struck out two.

Creston finished the regular season 20-15. The Panthers host Indianola (19-17) at 7 p.m. today for the first round of regional play.

“Our goal was to get better every game,” he said.

John Van Nostrand

JOHN VAN NOSTRAND

An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.