COLFAX — The Class 1A No. 11 Colfax-Mingo softball team came into its non-conference game with 2A No. 3 Collins-Maxwell/Baxter hitting .344 as a team with 24 home runs. The Tigerhawks were averaging 7.4 runs per game and reaching base more than 40 percent of the time.
None of that mattered on June 27 as CMB’s two all-state pitchers shut down Colfax-Mingo on its homefield during a 3-0 win over the Tigerhawks.
CMB freshman Mikayla Houge allowed two hits and struck out seven in five innings to improve to 14-0 on the season, and senior Abbey Kahler fanned two in the final two innings to get her second save of the year.
The Raider duo kept the high-powered Tigerhawk offense off balance all night, and three early runs was enough to improve CMB’s record to 25-5.
“We kept them off balance, which is what we are trying to do,” CMB coach Troy Houge said. “They are pitching well, but the defense is playing well too. They strike out a lot of batters, but the defense makes plays behind them when they don’t. We made a couple tough plays when we needed to.”
Mikayla Houge and Kahler halted the Tigerhawks’ six-game win streak by changing speeds and rarely missing their spots.
Colfax-Mingo got a two-out single from senior Amy Russell in the first inning and then sophomore Colbee Cunningham reached on a two-out infield single against Mikayla Houge in the fourth after she walked sophomore Mackensie Brown.
Brown drew another walk against Kahler to lead off the seventh, and sophomore Delaney Underwood walked against Mikayla Houge with two outs in the second.
That was all the offense the Tigerhawks could muster as they got past first base just once in the game.
“They pitched very well. Hitting is about adjustments. This was good pitching for us to see,” Colfax-Mingo Bryan Poulter said. “We didn’t make the adjustments and didn’t go to the element of attack like we needed to. It was good for us from the standpoint that we can’t expect to go up there and tee off all the time.
“The message has to be that this could be the type of pitcher we see late in the postseason, and you have to make adjustments. So, now, how do we make adjustments?”
The Tigerhawks (22-11) helped the Raiders with a pair of two-out errors in the first inning. Mikayla Houge reached base when Colfax-Mingo failed to catch a fly ball in the outfield.
Kahler then reached when her hard hit ball to second was misplayed. Houge’s courtesy runner, freshman Trinity Stover, scored on the error to make it 1-0.
“I am not disgruntled by this loss,” Poulter said. “We don’t ever want to lose, but the message is we can’t give away outs against good teams and we have to make adjustments at the plate.
“The early errors helped give them an advantage, but we still have to score runs to win.”
Freshman Holly Jessen singled to open the second inning and took second on a wild pitch. Her older sister, senior Heather Jessen singled to put runners on the corners with no outs.
After Colfax-Mingo starter Cunningham got a strikeout, CMB freshman Abby Husak laid down a suicide squeeze bunt to score Holly Jessen. The Tigerhawks got out of the jam with a double play as Heather Jessen was thrown out at the plate after junior Katie Camp failed to reach on a slap bunt.
In the third, Mikayla Houge led off with a double. Stover moved up to second after Kahler walked. With one out, sophomore Hannah Caple reached base on a suicide bunt single that scored Stover.
That made it 3-0, and that was enough for Mikayla Houge and Kahler, who have combined to strike out 263 batters this season.
“I just try to throw my stuff and stay calm,” said Mikayla Houge, who lowered her 1.11 earned run average with another shutout. “I have confidence that I can get any hitter out, I have confidence in his pitch calling and I know that my stuff works.
“Abbey did a nice job coming in. It’s great that we can rely on each other when the other one is struggling or if we just want to give them another look. She did a nice job of coming in and shutting them down late in the game.”
Both teams used both of their pitchers in the game. Both coaches said after the game it was the plan going into the night because each team is starting to prepare for what postseason games might bring to the table.
Mikayla Houge threw the first five innings for CMB. Kahler came into the face the top of Colfax-Mingo’s lineup in the sixth and produced a 1-2-3 inning.
“We may have to do this in the postseason, and we haven’t done that too much this year,” Coach Houge said about using both pitchers. “It was a good night to do that because this was a nonconference game.
“The only thing we didn’t know was when to make the change for sure. We decided we got through five and they had the top of the order coming up for a third time. The top of their order is tough, and we wanted to give them a different look.”
Poulter went with Cunningham first after senior Amy Russell started the night before against Montezuma.
“We are trying to work this week on getting both Amy and Colbee time in games We are trying to adjust to postseason elements,” Poulter said. “We may have to make changes in postseason games, and we want to see how they start games and how they do when they come into the game in relief. We need them to be able to pitch in any situation.”
The Raiders won the game despite continuing to play without multiple starters. Senior center fielder Megan Ritter and junior shortstop Jordynn Wesselink are both gone this week at an annual mission’s trip.
CMB was missing two to three starters last week, too. The Raiders are 12-1 during that stretch with the only loss coming to 4A No. 1 Benton.
“It’s the next girl in mentality for us,” Coach Houge said. “We have been able to plug different girls in and still win. Heather played shortstop for the first time in a long time tonight. Abby Husak played center field and led off for us.
“Tonight, we did the little things. We didn’t need a lot of runs, but we were able to scratch out a few with some small ball stuff.”
Husak had one hit and was hit by a pitch for CMB, and Mikayla Houge had one hit and walked once. Heather Jessen went 2-for-3.
All six CMB hits came against Cunningham. She allowed three runs — two earned — with three strikeouts and two walks in four innings.
Russell pitched the final three innings and did not allow a hit. She walked two, hit one and struck out five.
But the offense just couldn’t get going against CMB’s pitching duo.
“I think it’s been a few games since we have seen this kind of speed and this kind of control.,” Poulter said. “Good pitching will take you a long ways.”
The Tigerhawks’ regular season is over. They began 1A postseason play at home against either East Union (1-25) or Griswold (6-23) at 7 p.m. on July 5 in Colfax. The winner of that quarterfinal contest plays in the semifinals on July 7. The regional championship game is at 7 p.m. on July 10.
Colfax-Mingo 11, Montezuma 1
COLFAX — Russell led her team to an easy home win on June 26 over Montezuma on Senior Night.
Russell had four hits at the plate, crushed her ninth home run of the season and got the win inside the pitching circle during an 11-1 victory over the Bravettes.
The Class 1A No. 11 Tigerhawks grabbed an early lead and never looked back.
Russell finished 4-for-4 at the plate with three RBIs and three runs scored. She is now hitting a team-best .518 on the season.
Eight of the Tigerhawks’ 10 hits came from the first four batters in the lineup.
Wilson had two doubles and scored two runs. Alivia Haley had two RBIs and Brown had two RBIs and two walks.
Russell (14-4) allowed one earned run on three hits with four strikeouts and four walks in four innings. She now has 125 strikeouts on the season.
Cunningham did not allow a run or a hit, and she struck out one in the final two innings.
North Mahaska 12, Colfax-Mingo 11
NEW SHARON — Not even five home runs was enough for Colfax-Mingo during an SICL loss to North Mahaska on June 29.
The Tigerhawks blew a two-run lead in the final inning because of two miscues, and the Warhawks handed Colfax-Mingo a 12-11 road loss to end SICL play.
Despite the loss, Colfax-Mingo still clinches the SICL West Division title. The Tigerhawks and Lynnville-Sully both finished 11-5, but Colfax-Mingo won the division title because of two head-to-head wins.
The Tigerhawks-Warhawks game on June 29 was a completion of the originally scheduled game on June 28, which was suspended because of severe weather. To be able to play the game before the regular season ended, Colfax-Mingo’s scheduled doubleheader on June 29 with Moravia was canceled.
The game featured a combined 30 hits.
Cunningham hit her third and fourth home runs of the season, and seniors Russell and Alivia Haley and junior Rhiannon Haley all homered once.
Russell and Rhiannon Haley now have 10 home runs this season, which is tied for second in Class 1A. Kee’s Kendra Cooper leads 1A with 12.
Leading 11-9, Amy Russell got the first two Warhawks by ground out in the bottom of the seventh inning.
North Mahaska kept the inning alive with a double and then another batter walked to put two on with two out. The next batter struck out but reached base on a dropped third strike. One run scored on the play to make it 11-10.
The Warhawks loaded the bases with a single, and the home team scored the walk-off win when the Tigerhawks committed a two-run error in the outfield.
Amy Russell took the loss in the circle. In her 4 2/3 innings pitched, she allowed eight runs — five earned — on seven hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Cunningham allowed four earned runs on nine hits with three stikeouts in her two innings.
Cunningham led the Tigerhawk offense with three hits, two home runs, three RBIs and two runs. Wilson also had three hits and scored three runs.
Rhiannon Haley and Amy Russell both had two hits and three RBIs. Rhiannon Haley scored two runs and walked once. Alivia Haley scored two runs, too.
EBF 11, Colfax-Mingo 1
COLFAX — Colfax-Mingo was limited to four hits and lost a third straight game on June 30.
Class 2A No. 9 Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont blasted the Tigerhawks early and never looked back in an 11-1 nonconference road win.
The Rockets plated two in the second, four in the third and five in the fourth to end the game after five innings.
Colfax-Mingo scored its lone run in the bottom of the fifth, but the Tigerhawks (22-11) couldn’t avoid the 10-run mercy rule.
EBF (27-8) snapped a two-game losing streak with 12 hits.
Alivia Haley had one hit, one run and one walk to lead the Tigerhawks. Rhiannon Haley had one hit and one RBI in the loss.
Cunningham (8-7) took the loss in the circle for the Tigerhawks. She allowed 11 earned runs on 12 hits with two strikeouts and four walks.