ELDRIDGE -- When North Scott's Ryann Cheek steps into the circle with poise and confidence, the feeling carries throughout her teammates.
“To see she can get it done there, shows that we can get it done behind her and in at-bats,” Lancers first baseman Rachel Anderson said. “It’s a real big confidence booster for us.”
Cheek delivered another dazzling performance for Class 4A No. 10-ranked North Scott on Monday.
The southpaw struck out eight, allowed just three hits and also had three runs batted in as the Lancers won Game 2 of a Mississippi Athletic Conference doubleheader against Bettendorf 8-2, salvaging a split.
Bettendorf won the opener 5-2.
Cheek, a freshman, carried in a 5-1 record with an earned-run average under 1.00 into her eighth start of the year. She set down nine of the first 10 hitters using a variety of off-speed pitches including an improved change-up.
“I’ve been working throughout the winter on my change-up because that’s one of the pitches people seem to swing and miss. It’s a really good pitch to have,” Cheek said. “Being a freshman means nothing when I’m in the circle.”
North Scott (15-7, 5-5 MAC) provided Cheek with some run support in the third inning with four runs on five hits, the big blow a 2-run double by Anderson.
Sophia DelVecchio threw an inside fastball that the sophomore smacked to left field. It was the only extra-base hit the Lancers had in the nightcap.
“The at bat before, it was coming in and I let it go,” said Anderson, who went 4-for-6 in the twin bill. “I was seeing it and I was ready to hit it.”
Despite giving up a 2-run bomb to Anna Forari in the fourth, Cheek settled down and kept the Bulldogs (10-7, 4-5) at bay, not allowing another hit and only one more baserunner.
Head coach Holly Hoelting said she expects that from her young pitcher.
“I really think sky is the limit for her,” Hoelting said. “She never gets too tense about anything. She mentally focused in.”
Bettendorf coach Jay Hatch was disappointed in his defense, which committed an error in the fifth inning that allowed North Scott to plate another four runs.
A Bettendorf outfielder dropped a ball that allowed Sam Lee to reach second base, which was followed by Anderson and Cheek connecting on run-scoring singles.
“We didn’t make a play we should’ve made,” Hatch said.
It was the exact opposite in Game 1.
Madison Temple induced 14 flyball outs in a complete game and the 1-through-4 hitters in the Bulldog lineup went a combined 7-for-15 with four runs batted in.
Grace Erpelding and Erin Hatch each had a pair of hits and a run scored. Hatch uncorked a 2-run home run to left-center that gave Bettendorf a 3-0 advantage in the third.
“People on base in front of them is what we love,” Hatch said. “They’re not going to get a hit every time.”
After getting swept by Davenport Assumption, Hatch felt they took a step forward. Hoelting resembled similar comments after falling to Pleasant Valley on Thursday.
And with both teams bunched up in the middle of the conference race at the halfway point leaves for an intriguing second half.
“We’re ready to take some wins that aren’t expected from us,” Anderson said. “Take down some of those teams and show them we can take them just as good as anyone else.”