Seemingly everything was going well for Bettendorf on Thursday night outside of senior Gabrielle VanderVinne, who had three well-hit balls that were all caught.
When she entered the batters’ box in the sixth inning of Game 2 of the doubleheader against Muscatine, coach Jay Hatch wanted to make sure she wasn’t discouraged.
“’Just hit hard,’” Hatch said from the coach’s box at third base. “’It’s going to find a hole.’”
On the very first pitch of the at-bat, VanderVinne ripped a home run over the right field wall to put an exclamation point on Bettendorf’s road sweep of Muscatine.
“I didn’t mean it was going to be over the fence,” Hatch said, “but that’s one way to make sure they don’t catch it.”
The Bulldogs took advantage of what Hatch called a “perfect storm,” to sweep the Muskies on their senior night 16-2 in a four-inning mercy rule, and 10-5 Thursday night. Whether it was stealing bases, or taking big leads, the Bulldogs’ aggressive nature on the base paths bothered the Muskies into errors and other mental mistakes, as they committed seven errors to the Bulldogs’ one.
Hatch said that’s an important part of their game plan because although VanderVinne hit a homer Thursday, the Bulldogs (13-8) don’t normally hit home runs and have to look to advance runners at every opportunity.
“We try to be aggressive, and we try to make the other team have to make plays,” Hatch said. "Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. Our kids executed that well.”
But it was more than just their baserunning that led to their sweep of the Muskies. The Bulldog offense was firing on all cylinders, as all nine players in their lineup had at least one RBI, and they totaled 33 hits in two games. They also exploded for an 11-run third inning in the first game where 16 batters appeared at the plate in the inning, and they recorded 10 hits, and at one point nine straight batters reached base.
“I couldn’t be happier with how we played tonight,” Hatch said. “I never expected this against Muscatine. We’re really happy with it.”
North 13-17, Central 5-5: Davenport North earned its first two conference wins of the season in a sweep of Davenport Central.
Lauren Proehl had nine hits and four doubles in the twin bill as the Wildcats (7-13, 2-10 MAC) pounded out 37 hits and scored in 10 of the 13 innings played.
A 5-run sixth inning in the opener and two 5-run innings in the nightcap highlighted the offense for the Wildcats. Eight different players had two or more runs batted in.
Karlie Westmoreland and Aubrey Verdon had two home runs for Central (4-13, 1-11).
Assumption 3-7, Burlington 0-1: Powered by a season-high 17 strikeouts by Drake recruit Nicole Timmons, the Class 3A top-ranked Knights swept the Class 4A 11th-ranked Grayhounds.
It marks the 24th win in a row for head coach Ron Ferrill's squad, while also keeping their lead at two games over Davenport West in the conference standings.
Assumption (24-1, 12-0 MAC) has now outscored its opponents 94-7 since league play has started.
Pleasant Valley 12-13, Clinton 2-0: It took eight innings for the Class 5A sixth-ranked Spartans to sweep the River Queens in Clinton and up their winning streak to seven games.
The doubleheader victory puts PV in a tie for third with Bettendorf at 9-3 in the conference, one game behind Davenport West and three behind Assumption. The Spartans have twin bills with three ranked teams remaining in the MAC.