With darkness rapidly approaching, Erin Mullen made sure that when play resumed, her team had the lead.
Mullen's two-run home run in the top of the fourth inning sparked the Pleasant Valley softball team to a five-run inning in the second game of a doubleheader against Davenport Assumption. The game was suspended after four innings, with the Spartans holding a 9-5 lead after winning the first game 11-4. Play will be resumed at a later date.
"You've got to love it," PV coach Lori Duncan said. "The ability of a team to be able to answer back and stay calm under pressure, that's a huge sign of a mature team. It's still early in the season, we've got a lot of maturing left, but I couldn't be more pleased at that."
That maturity is something Assumption coach Ron Ferrill hopes will happen in the weeks before the second game is resumed. He also hopes the team will get over an early injury bug that claimed Kaitlyn Andresen against Bettendorf and Ashley Ackerman in the first game against PV.
"In all reality, the stalled game was a blessing for us," he said. "We're going to grow. I've got a hard-working group of young kids that's going to get better and better all year. We're going to be most dangerous in July so by this being delayed, we'll come back healthier and stronger and better prepared."
Mullen's blast, her second of the game, came after Assumption (6-2, 2-1 MAC) had tied the game on a two-run home run from Emma Valainis in the previous inning. After Kayla Schmell singled to lead off the fourth inning, Mullen stepped up and blasted the first pitch of the at-bat over the left-field fence.
"I noticed a pattern," Mullen said of pitcher Nicole Timmons. "The first pitch was always around the same area so I was just getting ready for it."
Early-season pitching was prevalent in Game 1, which gave both catchers a workout with multiple wild pitches, passed balls and walks.
The Spartans (4-1, 2-1) took the early lead with two-run third and fourth innings, confident with Ellie Spelhaug pitching in the circle.
Spelhaug was coming off a career performance against Davenport West that saw her record 12 strikeouts, but the grind of being a multi-sport athlete finally caught up Thursday as the freshman struggled early with command, walking six batters in the first four innings.
After Hannah Wislander's three-run home run cut the Spartan lead to 5-4 in the fifth inning, Spelhaug settled down, retiring six out of the last seven batters to finish with five strikeouts.
"I knew a lot of it was on me ... but I couldn't just get down, I needed to do something for my team to help," Spelhaug said. "There's no excuses, I need to go out no matter what. My team made so many amazing plays for me ... everything they can do, it helps, especially on days like this."
Even with Spelhaug's struggles, the Spartans still managed a lopsided win thanks to the sixth inning, when one wild pitch, one passed ball, a hit batter and five walks allowed PV to plate four runs despite getting just one hit. Hailey Duwa's two-run home run in the seventh inning capped the scoring.
"Every time we made a run, we just couldn't do anything with it," Ferrill said. "(Starting pitcher) Hannah Kelley did a nice job starting out. I probably went away from her a little soon but we were trying to go with a mix and sometimes I go overboard."