Friday, the Union/Cove Ladycats softball team won a pair of squeakers.
Saturday was a dominant effort that resulted in two blowout wins.
In all, it was a 4-0 weekend for the Ladycats at the annual Union Spring Bash, giving the team some momentum heading into an upcoming showdown with Grant Union/Prairie City.
“We learned a lot from this weekend and (we have) a lot to work on, but going 4-0 was really nice,” Union/Cove Head Coach Paul Phillips said, summing up his team’s play. “The kids not allowing a run (Saturday) in two games was great.”
Union/Cove 13, Bonanza 12
The Ladycats opened Friday by surviving a fierce late rally by the Bonanza Antlers and overcoming seven errors to win a shootout.
Bonanza, which trailed 9-4 after five innings, surged to a 12-11 lead with four runs in both the sixth and seventh innings.
But Union/Cove escaped in the bottom of the seventh. Callie Glenn hit a one-out RBI double to tie the score, and scored two batters later when Harley Creech hit a walk-off sacrifice fly.
The top of Union/Cove’s order did major damage for the Ladycats, with Glenn, Kaylin Nowak and Creech combining to go 8-for-13 with two home runs — back-to-back shots by Nowak and Creech in the sixth — and nine RBIs.
The big game from Creech was the beginning of a strong weekend for the sophomore catcher, who also homered Saturday. She said she has been working to “fix” her swing.
“I was taking too long to get to the ball. I spent a (lot of) time hitting off of tees and figured my swing out,” she said.
Union/Cove hit four doubles to take a 4-2 lead in the first inning, with RBI doubles from Creech and Taylar Daggett and a two-run double by Kylie Bruce accounting for the runs.
Daggett singled home a run to break a 4-4 tie in the third and trigger a five-run inning. Glenn and Nowak added two-run singles later in the frame to put the Ladycats up by five.
Daggett and Bruce both added two RBIs and two hits. Glenn pitched a complete game and was charged with 12 runs, but four were unearned. She also struck out eight batters.
Union/Cove 4, North Douglas 3
The Ladycats won their late game Friday behind what Phillips said may have been the highlight of the weekend for him as Union/Cove posted four runs in the fifth against North Douglas Warriors’ ace Nicki Derrick. Union/Cove, in fact, scored more runs in the inning than North Douglas has allowed in any other game this season.
“(Derrick) is just a really good pitcher. We put together some quality at bats, but we struggled a little bit putting the ball in play,” Phillips said. “I was proud (of how) the girls stayed focused and just took care of business.”
Derrick struck out 11, and got some help when North Douglas scored three times in the top of the fifth for a 3-0 lead.
But Union/Cove loaded the bases with nobody out in the home-half of the frame before Kylie Marriott scored on a passed ball to get the Ladycats on the board. Glenn followed with a two-run double to even the score, and Creech drove in Glenn with a single for the lead.
Glenn made the lead hold up to earn the win, striking out four and allowing just one earned run on seven hits. Union/Cove committed five errors in the win, but was able to limit the
Union/Cove 10, Warrenton 0
Union/Cove cleaned up the defense and continued its strong offensive play to score two more victories, starting with a 10-0, five-inning win over the Warrenton Warriors Saturday.
Daggett pitched a one-hit shutout and struck out three batters for Union/Cove, and the offense got rolling right away. Creech hit a first-inning RBI triple and later scored on a wild pitch for a 2-0 lead.
A Nowak RBI single, a two-run single by Creech and an RBI single by Daggett made it 6-0 in the second, and the rout was on.
Marriott and Maddy Sturm hit run-scoring singles in the fourth, and Creech ended the game in the fifth with a sac fly to finish with four RBIs. Marriott drove in two runs.
Union/Cove 10, Colton 0
Glenn shut down the Vikings in Union/Cove’s finale, allowing just three hits and striking out nine batters in a six-inning victory.
Glenn also got the offense going with an RBI triple in the third for a 1-0 lead, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Nowak. Daggett’s RBI single later gave the Ladycats a 3-0 lead.
An error, RBI singles by Glenn and Creech and a Daggett sacrifice fly in the fourth made it 7-0. Union/Cove finished off the win in the sixth when Creech hit a two-run home run and Samantha Lawyer scored on a wild pitch.
Daggett, who had three hits, said each player has been contributing, especially at bat, with the team scoring 37 runs in the four games.
“Everyone’s playing their part — hitting the gappers, getting people on base, bunting them around and playing small ball,” she said.
She also felt she and Glenn were both sharp on Saturday in tossing their respective shutouts.
“We both hit our spots really well and kept the ball low in the zone,” she said.
Even with the successful weekend, players and coaches acknowledged there is plenty of room to improve. Creech said a big area to grow for the young Ladycats, who are primarily freshmen and sophomores, is “knowing where you need to be (and) when you need to be there. It just comes with more experience.”
Union/Cove (6-2 overall) gets set for a big test this weekend when it hosts Grant Union/Prairie City, the top-ranked 2A/1A team, to open Special District 6 play.
“They’re the real deal,” Phillips said of the Prospectors. “Hopefully we have our ‘A’ game and we’ll see what happens.”