The Pella softball team completed a very challenging – and somewhat improbable – run through their final three regular season games in a three-day span to earn a share of the Little Hawkeye Conference title yesterday afternoon in Knoxville. The Lady Dutch earned the win in emphatic fashion, rocking Knoxville 13-2 in seven innings. Pella Head Coach Krista DeMeulenaere said it was an impressive finish in a great stretch for the team.
“This is unbelievable, and I credit those seventeen girls because to play Norwalk on Wednesday, Newton on Thursday, and then to come here and play Knoxville – the girls played unbelievable softball,” said DeMeulenaere. “As a coach, you wonder ‘How do you keep them up?’ ‘How do you come after this game?’ and I didn’t have to do anything. I think just coming to Knoxville was enough.”
Through two innings, the game appeared destined to go down to the final outs, but a five-run break-out third inning for Pella gave the Lady Dutch the advantage they needed, and things only got worse for Knoxville from there. A bright spot did come for the Lady Panthers in the sixth inning, though, as Kelsey Kingery slammed a two-run homer to deep left field; but at that time, it was too late.
Offensively, Pella was led by senior Whitney Pavlat and junior Mackenzie Anthony. Pavlat went 3-for-3 at the plate with a walk, batted-in three runs and scored a run herself. Anthony found herself only hitting doubles, as all three of her hits landed her on second base, as she also had three RBIs and scored two runs. DeMeulenaere credited the success on offense to the team’s attitude going into the game.
“Boy they were on fire. I just think they came in so relaxed today,” said DeMeulenaere. “They really felt like what they had done all the way up to today earned the respect that they’d been after in the softball program at Pella, so today really was just coming out here and having fun. And they did, they played great.”
On the mound, Mandy DeMeulenaere held Knoxville to just six hits, while striking out four batters and walking only one. Knoxville’s Jessica Stickel gave up eleven hits to the Lady Dutch, along with seven walks and struck out three. Lady Panthers Head Coach Steph Christner said that while mistakes on offense and defense limited the team’s ability to stay competitive, but also gave credit to the team in the opposing dugout.
“We started out well there in the top of the first, and then made a few errors, missed cuts in from the outfield, threw to the wrong bases a couple of times, and just didn’t come out swinging well,” said Christner. “I mean we had a few good hits here and there, but give it to Pella – they had the conference championship in sight and they went out and took care of business to get it.”
With the win, the Pella softball team finishes the regular season with a record of 19-9 and 11-3 in the Little Hawkeye Conference, which ties them with Pella Christian for the league’s best record. Knoxville’s regular season concluded with an 11-19 overall mark and 4-9 conference record. Both teams begin postseason play today in the Class 3-A Regional Tournament.