Eight-run fourth propels Comets over Warriors

Cardinal left fielder Maddie Cloke makes a running catch in left field during the Comets’ 10-4 win at Van Buren County on Friday. (Andy Krutsinger/The Union)
Cardinal left fielder Maddie Cloke makes a running catch in left field during the Comets’ 10-4 win at Van Buren County on Friday. (Andy Krutsinger/The Union)

KEOSAUQUA — Eight was the magic number for the Cardinal softball team on Friday night. The Comets batted around in the fourth inning of their outheast Iowa Super Conference South Division showdown against Van Buren County, plating eight runs and blowing what was a 2-2 game wide open en route to a 10-4 victory.

The Comets had to shake a rough start. After going quietly in the top of the first, Van Buren leadoff hitter Isabel Manning led the bottom half of the inning with a line drive home run over the left field fence. Annabell Cormier knocked in a run later in the frame and it was 2-0 Warriors.

Cardinal responded with two of their own in the top of the first. Riley Bears knocked in one on a fielder’s choice and Lydia Moses scored on a wild pitch to knot the contest up.

When the top of the fourth rolled around, the Comet bats got red-hot. Cardinal loaded the bases with nobody out and started circling the wagons. The big inning included a RBIs from Caitly Reber, Alexia McClure, Rachel Lewman and Kassidy Verrips. The big inning was much to the delight of starting pitcher Ava Ferrell, who went from throwing in a pitchers dual to pitching with a comfortable lead.

“We’re feeling good,” said Ferrell. “We just need to keep everything rolling and just keep going.”

The Warriors had a threat of their own in the fifth inning, but eighth-grader Nicoa McClure came and shut the door to keep the Comets up by two.

“I’ve just got to get settled in and get into my groove, and it’s fine,” N. McClure said. “And I know I’ve got a great defense behind me.”

Van Buren wouldn’t score again until their final at-bat. After the leadoff hitter reached, Manning delivered another shot to left field, a two-run bomb that cut the lead to six.

“Manning is seeing the ball great right now,” VBC head coach Randy Smith said. “She’s hitting it right on the nose.”

Unfortunately for the home fans, that’s all the Warriors would get. Cardinal put their rivals away and won their sixth game in seven tries.

Ferrell picked up the win for Cardinal, giving up two earned runs on five hits and one walk, while striking out two batters over 4.1 innings. Chelsey Huff was tagged with the loss for VBC, giving up six runs (four earned) on three hits and three walks, while striking out four. Ally Cambell would relieve Huff in the fourth.

Cardinal’s offense was led by Moses, who finished 3-for-3 with an RBI. A. McClure also had multiple hits, going 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Manning finished 2-for-4 with two homers and three RBIs to lead the Warriors. Huff went 3-3. Cormier was 1-4 with an RBI. Lexi Jirak, who was the lone VBC senior celebrating senior night was 1-4.

Cardinal is now 8-3 overall and 3-2 in conference play. They’ll host Central Lee tonight (Monday). VBC sits at 5-5 overall and 1-4 in the conference. The Warriors will play at Centerville tonight.

Cardinal and VBC will renew their rivalry once more this season when the two squads meet up in the first round of their Class 2A regional tournament on Monday, July 13.