Baseball & Softball

(KMAland) -- Sports are back! However, the blogs continue. This is the 86th consecutive blog and the 90th in the last 92 days.

The baseball and softball season officially got started in the state of Iowa yesterday. There were 26 softball and 25 baseball games in KMAland and dozens of others throughout the state.

Here are 10 things to know from opening night in KMAland…

1 – Blake Doyle is here!

A lot of people say that the pitching is ahead of the hitting when the season starts, but I wasn’t sure if that would be the case this year. Usually, pitchers have been throwing since February. That wasn’t the case for everyone this season, obviously. For Shenandoah’s Blake Doyle, his pitching was definitely ahead of the Clarinda hitting on opening night.

That’s no disrespect whatsoever meant to the Clarinda hitters, but Doyle was dealing. Yes, Jakob Childs and Wyatt Schmitt were also dealing for the Cardinals, but they had to take the tough-luck loss on this night. What a performance for Doyle, who now sports an outstanding mane and full-faced beard, which can only help when it comes to intimidation.

2 – Logan-Magnolia sweeps Treynor

The Panthers treated their fans to a pair of wins over defending Western Iowa Conference champions in both softball and baseball last night. The softball side of things may not have been an upset, but the baseball certainly was.

Now, what does this mean for the rest of the season? The season is shortened, and one loss can turn the league upside down. On both sides of the ledger, Logan-Magnolia has to ready themselves for a showdown with Underwood. Two more wins for Lo-Ma tonight suddenly places them in the driver’s seat of both leagues.

3 – St. Albert gets a big win

St. Albert baseball grabbed a headline win last night, taking down Harlan in front of a rowdy home crowd. The Falcons got a nice combined outing from Jeff Miller and Luke Hubbard, and Daniel McGrath and Cy Patterson sparked the offense to push them to 1-0 in the Hawkeye Ten Conference.

The significance of this win is two-fold. One, they beat Harlan. The Cyclones rarely lose in the Hawkeye Ten, and when you do it it’s a huge program boost. Two, they now have a leg up on the Cyclones in the conference race. Of course, the Falcons have to now turn right around and play Lewis Central (also 1-0) tonight. Their confidence has to be at an all-time high, and if they can take down their city rival they can feel plenty good about winning a conference baseball crown in the H-10 for the first time in school history.

4 – Sidney softball makes a statement

Kent Larsen’s text rang out during my Shenandoah/Clarinda broadcast last night: “Thanks for the motivation!”

Yesterday, the KMA Sports trio of Trevor Maeder, Ryan Matheny and yours truly all picked Fremont-Mills to beat the Cowgirls. Whoops. Sidney rolled to an 18-4 victory over defending Corner Pitcher of the Year Kendall Reed and Fremont-Mills. Faith Brumbaugh smashed a grand slam, and Olivia Larsen and Sidnie Baier also had big games at the plate in a huge statement win.

This is not just a win, though, and it’s not just an 18-4 win, either. It’s a victory over the team that shared the Corner regular season title with them last year, and it’s a victory over a really, really good pitcher in Reed. This is a big message to the rest of the league, and it says: We’re not going anywhere.

5 – Colby Royal with a gem of his own

Colby Royal had a huge year last season on the mound for Stanton, and he’s off to quite the start in 2020, too. He went out and threw a no-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts in a dominant performance during a 2-0 win for the ‘Kings over Lenox.

Cullen Wood also threw well for the Tigers in striking out six and allowing just the two runs, but Royal was just too good on this night. I loved this matchup in yesterday’s breakdown, and it turned out to be a heck of a non-conference battle.

From year to year, you really never what to expect. Pitching can be pretty fickle. Can Royal duplicate the kind of season he put together last year? All signs point to yes after last night’s star performance.

6 – Kenna Ford might just have a shot at POTY

If Kenna Ford is going to put up the performances that she put up last night she’s going to be a serious threat for the WIC and KMAland Pitcher of the Year. Ford had a complete-game shutout of her own with nine strikeouts against Audubon. It’s almost as if she’s in midseason form.

Ford was backed by some strong offense out of Ashlyn Amdor (a double and two runs), Graice Bluml (a double among two hits and two RBI) and Chiara Rains (two runs scored), and that was more than enough for her a very dominant night in the circle. AHSTW – which had 14 runs against Tri-Center – is up next.

7 – Three pitchers, zero hits

Underwood threw Blake Hall and then Nick Ravlin at Missouri Valley, and Bedford put Brennan Sefrit on the bump against Southwest Valley. Those three combined to give up zero hits.

Hall and Ravlin combined on a no-no for the Eagles in a win over the Big Reds while Sefrit went five innings, struck out 14 and walked just one during a 7-2 win over Southwest Valley. He left the game after those five, but they sure were a dominant five.

8 – The new Glidden-Ralston can bop it

Last week, I talked with Glidden-Ralston softball coach Kevin Schon about his new team. They added in Eagle Grove’s Jozey Gump and Belmond-Klemme’s sisterly duo of Alli and Madi Barrus. Last night, they combined for three hits, four RBI, three runs, two walks and two stolen bases.

However, they were hardly alone. Vanessa Koehler had a big game with two doubles and four RBI, Gretchen Wallace doubled in a run and Talia Schon had her own RBI double. Meanwhile, Schon and Morgan Koehler teamed up in the circle in an impressive 15-3 win over IKM-Manning. Do we add the Wildcats to the mix of RVC contenders on that win alone? I mean, maybe.

9 – CAM baseball hits it all over the yard

The Cougars had a big first night of hitting in a 15-1 win over Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton. Lane Spieker may have had the biggest offensive performance of the night in finishing with a home run among two hits and three RBI. Kolby Nelson doubled twice, singled once and drove in two, and Jacob Holste had two hits, two RBI and three runs.

And…big breath because I’m not done….Joe Kauffman also had three hits and scored twice, and Colby Rich took one deep for the Cougars in a dominant offensive performance. That’s a lot of guys, and they are hardly alone in that lineup. That offense is one to watch, and it might just be the X Factor in trying to take the RVC crown from Coon Rapids-Bayard.

10 – A reminder that the POI has some pitchers

That’s true in baseball, too, but I’m focusing on softball here. Real quick:

-Wayne’s Sterling Berndt had a shutout win over Murray.

-Central Decatur’s Kylee Rockhold struck out 14 in a win over Moulton-Udell

-TJ Stoaks of Lenox had a tough-luck loss to Martensdale-St. Marys, striking out 13 and walking just one while allowing zero earned runs.

-Emily Baker of Bedford was a nice surprise on the night as she put down 11 Lamoni Demons.

-Addy Reynolds had a shutout win for Mount Ayr over Mormon Trail.

- East Union’s Mallory Raney had a five-inning complete game with six strikeouts and allowed just one unearned run in an 11-1 victory over Orient-Macksburg.

And one more…

-Braelynn Long of Martensdale-St. Marys. Long pitched towards the end of last season and had some success during her 8th grade summer. Now, as a freshman, she's off to a terrific start, and she'll definitely be on my list moving forward.

Those are just 10 things from opening night, and I could probably push it up to 20. But ain’t nobody got time for that….because it’s on to night number two.

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