The Van Meter softball team used an offensive explosion of a night to drown out conference foe Woodward-Granger in double header action Thursday night.
The Bulldogs combined for over 30 hits and turned in 35 runs combined across both games, winning 22-7 in game one and 13-12 in game two. At least six of those 35 runs came directly off of the bat of junior Meagan Blomgren who broke out of a recent slump to have a memorable two games.
“It felt good to get back and out of the slump,” began Blomgren. “I knew that if I was just patient at the plate and played my own game I would be unstoppable.”
Meagan collected over five hits and scratched across six hits and six runs which included a pair of home runs.
Game one is where the biggest offensive outburst took place for the Bulldogs as they racked together over 19 hits while also staying patient at the plate with eight total walks. Every batter recorded at least one hit with eight of the starting nine recording at least two hits in game one.
The Bulldogs actually found themselves trailing after two innings by a score of 3-2. Then the third inning came around and Van Meter struck eight hits and took advantage of a Woodward-Granger error to push across nine runs. The Bulldogs picked up three more runs in the fourth before Woodward-Granger would strike for four runs of their own in the bottom half to set the score 14-7. From there it would be all Van Meter who would go on to win game one 22-7. The Bulldogs were more than efficient in game one as they sent up an average of eight batters to the plate in each inning.
The Bulldogs were without their normal starter inside the circle as Haley Forret was sidelined due to a foot injury. The underclassmen platoon of Molly Blomgren, Shea Rhodes, and Lilly Prickett fared pretty well despite the offensive bombardment on both sides and it caught the attention of head coach James Flaws.
“With Haley out we had to just piece things together for pitching,” began Flaws. “I thought that while our pitchers didn’t have their best stuff tonight, they played pretty well and I thought they learned a lot from these games. It shows me that we are able to work well without our main pitcher in and that’s comforting as a coach moving forward.”
Game two was more of a back and fourth battle and involved a couple Herculean efforts by the Bulldogs to overcome a six run deficit and a seven run deficit. Game two began with a two run first for Woodward-Granger which was then answered by Meagan Blomgren’s second home run of the night and fifth of the year in the bottom of the first. From there things quickly unraveled for the Bulldogs as they watched Woodward-Granger take an 11-4 lead after just three innings of play. Meagan Blomgren would once again strike big and did so in game two with a two run triple in the bottom of the fourth while scoring herself on a passed ball.
“In my mind I was calling it even before my at bat that they better not throw it up,” said Meagan. “I knew I had put a good swing on it and I knew it was gone right off of the bat.”
That, combined with an Abby Archer sac fly would shrink the Hawks lead 11-8. It was a big answer and simply a call to relax by coach Flaws.
“After they had their big inning in the fourth I told the girls to just relax,” said Flaws. “Teams can get down on themselves after big innings against them but I just said we have to calm down and have fun, that’s what’s made us successful in the first place.”
Both teams traded three runs in the third, four runs in the fourth, and then the Bulldogs brought the game to within one thanks to three walks and a Woodward-Granger error in the fifth inning. That set up the game to come down to the wire and set the stage for freshman phenom Lilly Thompson. In the bottom of the seventh, Van Meter was down to their last strike with Thompson before she laced one into center clinched the win with a two run RBI double.
“I got down 0-2 and was a little nervous and I had a tough at bat before but I thought might as well give it my best shot,” began Thompson. “It felt really good, my heart is still pumping now.”
After the double header coach Flaws spoke on the productivity of his team across both games.
“I thought our offense was great tonight,” began Flaws. “I knew we could hit coming into tonight but we showed we can manufacture runs in multiple ways and that we don’t have to worry about putting runs on the board. With Haley out the offense really helped out younger pitchers stay calm, learn, and grow during the games without me having to switch out pitchers. Tonight again proved to me that with this team, I don’t have to worry about being down, the only thing that can beat us is us”
The Bulldog softball team is now 21-6 on the season and will look to round out the regular season with a rescheduled double header against AC-GC on Friday, June 29 and a weekend tournament in Carlisle on Saturday, June 30. The weekend tournament will include an 11:45 a.m. match up against Saydel and a 3:15 p.m. match up against Lynville Sully.