MONROE — Sometimes, the best way to break through a slump, is to take a chance on swinging at the first pitch.
That’s what sophomore Anna Shaver did on June 26 against South Hamilton.
Admitting she was in a slump coming into the game, Shaver sent Taylor Volkmann’s first pitch over the right-field fence, and that completed a big comeback for the Mustangs during an 8-4 home victory during Heart of Iowa Conference play.
Shaver’s first career varsity home run was a no-doubter that completed a seven-run fifth inning and helped PCM rally from an early 4-0 deficit.
“I was noticing that the first pitch was usually a strike so if it was there I wanted to hit it. It was there, so I hit it,” Shaver said. “It was very much so the hardest hit ball I have ever had in my varsity career. That made my day. I was in a slump, and I am coming back from it. This was the final thing that made me know that I might be out of that slump. I was very happy.”
The comeback win by PCM helped the Mustangs to a tie for second place in the HOIC this season. North Polk defeated a short-handed Mustangs’ team June 30 to pull even with PCM in the final regular season game of the season.
South Hamilton, which came into the game fresh off a win over Class 2A No. 1 ranked Interstate 35, finished its conference season at 9-5.
“They are a good team, there’s no doubt about that,” PCM coach Scott Bridges said of a South Hamilton team which came into the game winners of six in a row. “We are a good team, too, when we are doing things right and not beating ourselves. When we are playing our game, playing relaxed and smooth, I feel like we can play with anybody. We just can’t take ourselves out of games.”
The Mustangs (16-12 overall and 12-4 in the HOIC) were beating themselves a bit early in the game.
South Hamilton scored three runs in the third with two hits, a PCM error and a walk by Mustang starter Kayla Jennings. The Hawks scored their final run in the fifth in part because of another error.
Offensively, the Mustangs had three hits in the first four innings. They stranded two runners on base in the first inning and left single runners stranded in the next three innings.
Things changed in the fifth though.
PCM got going when seniors Jayci Vos and Abby Waddell both reached on one-out bunt singles. Senior Courtney Bridges hit an RBI single to put the Mustangs on the board and then Jennings made it 4-2 with another RBI single.
“Sometimes once you get on somebody, the pitcher can be shaken,” Coach Bridges said. “I think maybe she was trying to get it over the plate after that to try to get strikeouts. That allowed us to go after some pitches. That loosened us up.
“We were chasing the rise ball early. We started to recognize that pitch.”
With two outs, junior Madison Foster and senior Brooke Nicholson tied the game with RBI hits. Both players came around to score on Shaver’s three-run blast that easily cleared the fence in right field.
Shaver started the game at first base but did not bat until the fourth inning when she grounded out to second.
Coach Bridges stuck with her in the fifth, and Shaver got it done with the game-winning bomb.
“Right before the game, I noticed something with her footwork during BP,” Coach Bridges said. “We were able to fix it, but I had already had her getting DH for. I decided to let her bat, and that was a huge hit. We were already having a big inning anyway. That was awesome.”
PCM tacked on another run in the sixth to take an 8-4 lead into the seventh inning. Vos was hit by a pitch to start the inning, stole second and scored on Waddell’s RBI single. Waddell finished with three hits in the win.
The seven-run inning was more than enough support for Jennings, who improved to 12-8 in the circle on the season. She allowed four runs — two earned — on nine hits with two strikeouts and two walks. Jennings also had two hits, was hit by a pitch, scored a run and had an RBI at the plate.
Foster had two hits and reached base a third time on a South Hamilton error. Vos scored two runs and stole two bases. The Mustangs left seven on base.
Volkmann dropped to 10-6 on the year for the Hawks. She allowed eight runs on 11 hits with four strikeouts, two walks and two hit by pitches.
Alissa Moss had two hits and scored two runs from the lead-off spot for the Hawks (19-8, 9-5). She reached base a third time following a PCM error in the third. She later scored that inning to give South Hamilton a 3-0 lead.
Moss doubled in the fifth and scored on Marla Grubb’s RBI single to make it 4-0. Grubb had two hits in the loss.
The Mustangs began postseason play against Chariton (3-22) at 7 p.m. on July 5 in Monroe.
The winner of that game plays at 7 p.m. on July 7 at 3A No. 7 Solon.
North Polk 8, PCM 3
ALLEMAN — PCM and North Polk both had 10 hits in their HOIC game on June 30, but the Mustangs couldn’t string enough of those hits together during an 8-3 road loss.
North Polk scored three runs in the fourth to take a lead, and then the Comets answered PCM’s two-run top of the fifth inning with four runs in the bottom half. Both teams scored a run in the sixth.
North Polk’s Rebecca Rimathe hit her conference-leading 10th home run of the season. She is now tied for third in Class 3A and the Comets have a conference-high 21 homers as a team.
The Comets drew even with the Mustangs in the loss column of the HOIC standings. PCM (12-4) and North Polk (11-4) finished in a tie for second place in the league.
Foster had three hits and two RBIs for the Mustangs. Senior Katie Vande Wall hit her team-leading fourth home run of the season and had two hits total in the loss and Waddell and Nicholson both had two hits.
Senior Jaiden Rogers doubled and scored a run for PCM, which played its second game without Jennings, who was out of town to attend her brother’s military graduation.
Sophomore Maya Hegwood (4-4) took the loss for the Mustangs. She allowed seven earned runs on 10 hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
PCM 12, Nevada 3
NEVADA — For the second straight night, PCM put together a complete effort at the plate on June 28.
The Mustangs cranked out 12 hits, Waddell blasted a grand slam and PCM routed Nevada, 12-3, during HOIC play.
PCM plated two runs in the third inning to grab a lead and never trailed again.
The game against Nevada (3-20 overall, 1-14 in the HOIC) was delayed at the start by weather. It was worth the wait for the Mustangs. Eight of the nine players in the lineup had at least one hit and all nine batters reached base at least once.
PCM broke open the game with a five-run fourth and then pulled ahead even further with a four-run seventh.
Waddell’s grand slam was one of three hits for the senior. She scored twice and drove in four runs. The home run was Waddell’s second of the season.
Vande Wall had two hits, two runs, two RBIs and a walk and Rogers hit her first home run of the season, had two hits, scored twice and had two RBIs.
Freshman Regan Freland was the in the lineup to Jennings. Freland had two hits, two runs, two RBIs and a stolen base in the win.
Vos had one hit, walked once and scored twice, Foster had one hit and two RBIs and Nicholson and Courtney Bridges both went 1-for-4. Nicholson had an RBI and Shaver was hit by a pitch and scored a run.
Hegwood earned the win in the circle, allowing three earned runs on eight hits with three walks.
There were 20 hits in the game and neither team struck out at the plate.
PCM 11, Knoxville 1
MONROE — Every player in the PCM lineup had at least one hit on June 27 during the Mustangs’ 11-1 drubbing of Class 4A Knoxville during nonconference action.
But it was a trio of seniors who led the way on Senior Night.
Vos hit a walk-off three-run inside the park home run, Jennings allowed one hit in the circle and Vos, Jennings and Vande Wall combined for eight hits, five runs, seven RBIs and a walk.
The Mustangs handed Knoxville (10-15), who scored an unearned run in the third, to a seventh straight loss.
PCM, who had 15 hits in the game, led 1-0 after one inning, went up for good with a single run in the third and finished the game after five innings following a two-run fourth and a seven-run fifth.
“We continued our momentum from the night before,” Coach Bridges said. “We got things going up and down the lineup.”
Jennings improved to 12-8 in the circle on the season after allowing one unearned run on one hit and two walks with five strikeouts. She also went 3-for-3 with a run and an RBI at the plate.
Vos had three hits, three runs, three RBIs and a stolen base. She came into the game hitting .511 and now has 36 runs and 17 stolen bases on the season.
Vande Wall went 2-for-2 with a double, run scored, three RBIs and a walk. Shaver had two hits, one run and one RBI.
Waddell, Courtney Bridges, Nicholson, Rogers and Foster all had one hit apiece. Waddell also walked and scored a run, Rogers scored twice and Nicholson scored a run and stole a base.