By Brent Huelsmann
After a win on opening day over Greenville, the Nashville Hornettes softball team, has dropped four straight games. The Hornettes went through the gauntlet this past week as they took on some of the top teams in the state. Dupo, who finished second in Class 2A last season, St. Joe Ogden, who lost in the Super-Sectional last season, and Waltonville-Sesser Valier.
In the first game of the season, the Hornettes sent their lone senior Alli Liske to the mound as they took on the Greenville Lady Comets on March 16. Liske was phenomenal on the mound as she pitched a no-hitter and the Hornettes took the game 12-0 in five innings.
Nashville got out of the gate quick as they scored six runs in the first inning. Karly Stanowski started the scoring for the Hornettes as her double scored two in the first. Sophie Heck would notch a double of her own in the first, that doubled the Hornettes lead to 4-0. The Hornettes final two runs of the inning would come off the bat of sophomore Jenna Harris, to give Nashville a 6-0 lead at the end of one.
As the Hornettes came up to bat in the second, they continued to pour on, as Jordan Stiegman knocked in a run, followed by Brooke Burcham who knocked in two more. Heck would know in her third run of the game, and Libby Ahlers would follow that up to give the Hornettes a commanding 11-0 lead after two innings of play. The final run of the game, would come in the fourth off the bat of Hayley Kujawa. The Hornettes would win 12-0 in five innings.
On the mound, Alli Liske was on fire. The only Greenville runners on base reached via a walk in the first inning, and an error in the fourth inning. Overall Liske finished with five strikeouts spread over her five innings of work.
At the plate, Heck led Nashville with two hits, two runs scored, and three RBIs. Ahlers also had two hits in the win to go along with an RBI. Burcham went 1-1 with two RBIS and two runs scored in the win. Stanowski also had two RBIs as the Hornettes offense was on fire. Stiegman and Kujawa each finished with one hit and one RBI. Mackenzie McFeron, Paige Kasten, Jenna Harris, and Bailey Melton each had a hit in the win.
After the game, Coach Shaun Renth talked about the win. “Alli was pretty good today. It was probably pretty tough out there for her to control the ball as cold as it was, but she did a great job. She was around the zone all day today, and our bats kind of like we expected. We swung the bats pretty well today, and our base running was decent, took bases when we could and all around good effort for our first game.”
The Hornettes were back in action Friday, as part of four games in three days. The Hornettes traveled to Carterville to take on perennial Class 2A power St. Joe Ogden. The Hornettes fell behind 5-0 early, but came back to tie the game after the fourth inning of play. The game would not stay tied for long as St. Joe Ogden came back with four runs in each of the next two innings to take a commanding 13-5 lead after six innings of play. St. Joe Ogden would add one in the seventh, and a comeback effort by the Hornettes would come up short as St. Joe Ogden took the game 14-7.
Harris started the game for Nashville, as she went five innings, before Kyleigh Guinzy came in in relief as she pitched the final two innings. At the plate, the Hornettes were led by Burcham and Stiegman, who each finished with one hit and two RBIs in the loss. McFeron finished with two runs scored and singled in the contest. Kasten Stanowski, Joey Lane, Liske, Harris, and Guinzy each had a hit in the loss.
The Hornettes were back home for two games on Saturday March 18. The Hornettes first game would see a late comeback fall just short against Waltonville-Sesser Valier as the Hornettes lost the game 11-10. Waltonville would grab an early 1-0 lead after the first inning of play, but the Hornettes came right back in the second to take a 2-1 lead. The Hornettes would extend their lead in the third, to 3-1, but could not hold the lead. Waltonville took the lead in the fifth, with three runs in the frame, and took control in the sixth with seven runs in the inning. Down 11-3, the Hornettes would not lose without a fight. The bats came alive in the sixth inning as five runs crossed the plate.
In the bottom of the sixth, Heck and Harris hit back to doubles to cut Waltonville’s lead to 11-6. McFeron followed it up with another base knock to score another run. The Hornettes would add one more in the inning, and went into the final inning trailing only by three.
After Harris kept Waltonville off the board in the seventh, the Hornettes looked to complete the comeback in the bottom half of the inning. As the seventh inning started, the Hornettes quickly threatened for more runs. Harris came through to cut the deficit to two with nobody out. Waltonville would bounce back to make two outs, but down to their last out, the Hornettes cut the game to 11-10 on a groundout by McFeron. With a runner in scoring position on a two outs, Waltonville made a great defensive play to end the game, sealing the win 11-10.
McFeron led the squad with four RBIs on two hits in the loss. Harris also had a great day offensively as she finished with two hits and three RBIs. Heck notched a RBI on two hits, and both Stiegman and Liske each had a RBI in the loss. Kasten and Stanowski both had two hits, while Burcham had the lone other hit for Nashville, but scored three runs for Nashville.
Guinzy started the game on the mound as she pitched the first five innings for Nashville, while Harris came in to pitch the final two innings.
After the game, Coach Renth talked about his team’s fight. “You have to love the way the girls fight back, same thing yesterday, we were playing St. Joe Ogden. We went down 5-0, tied the game, and even there at the end yesterday we battled back and today no different. We battled back had the tying run on second base, and the shortstop made a great play on Paige’s ball.”
The Hornettes were back in action later that day against last year’s Class 2A State Runner-Up Dupo. The Lady Tigers would use one big inning to put away the Hornettes 8-5.
Dupo was first on the board as they scored in the top of the first inning, but the Hornettes quickly tied the game in the second after Heck tripled and scored on a passed ball.
The Lady Tigers would break the game open in the third as they scored five runs in the frame, two of which came on a home run. After three innings the Hornettes trailed 6-1. Dupo would add another run in the fourth to take a 7-1 lead, but the Hornettes would try to chip away as the game went on.
The Hornettes would score two in the fourth, on a single by Heck.Stiegman and Burcham both reached base and moved to second and third on a passed ball, setting the stage for Heck’s two run single to cut the Dupo lead to 7-3.
Dupo would score again in the sixth, to take a 8-3 lead,but the Hornettes would get the run right back in the bottom half of the inning. The Hornettes would have one more chance for a comeback in the seventh, but could only score one, as they dropped the game 8-5.
Heck led the team with two hits, and two RBIs in the loss. McFeron also finished with two hits, while Kasten, Stiegman, Liske, and Ahlers all finished with one hit. Burcham did not have a hit in the game, but was hit by a pitch twice and scored a run for Nashville.
Liske started the game, going three innings, before Kujawa pitched the final four innings.
After the game, Coach Renth talked about the tough early schedule, and what the team could take from them. “Lot of positives. We told them, this stretch of games here is not going to be easy, they know that. It’s not going to be an easy stretch for them. We gotta take the mistakes we make and learn from them and move on and correct them.”