ELDRIDGE, Iowa — North Scott’s offense has been struggling to start the season.
Its team batting average has been under .300 and it has averaged 5.7 runs per contest.
The bats woke up in an important early-season Mississippi Athletic Conference softball twinbill.
Powered by line drive hits and a pair of long balls, the Class 4A 12th-ranked Lancers salvaged a split against Class 5A sixth-ranked Pleasant Valley with a 12-2, five-inning win Thursday night at Lancer Field.
PV exploded offensively over the final two frames to come back and take the opener 9-4.
“It’s something as coaches, we know they can do,” North Scott head coach Holly Hoelting said. “Mechanically, they fixed that. We teach them, after your at bat, adjust for the next one, and I think that’s what they did.”
Hitting .290 as a collective unit, the Lancers (8-3, 3-1 MAC) had 25 hits in the twinbill, 10 from the top two in the lineup, Taylor Robertson and Brooke Kilburg.
Each had three hits in Game 2. Kilburg had four RBIs while Robertson scored three runs.
“If we start it off, we have a big inning,” Kilburg said. “The momentum goes from there.”
That big inning came in the third for the Lancers.
Leading 4-2, Abby Moeller launched a solo shot to left field that started the inning. RBI hits by Kate Hayes and Anderson set up a 2-run bomb by Kilburg to put the finishing touches on a five-run, five-hit frame.
“We focused on our pitch selection and hit the right pitches when it mattered,” Kilburg said. “It was an inside ball, and I honestly didn't think it was going out.”
Robertson, a sophomore shortstop, was moved to the top of the order after hitting ninth earlier in the season. Kilburg, the junior outfielder, slid one spot down.
It’s a move Hoelting got a first glance at on Lancer Field.
“Those two work really well together,” she said. “Those two are great bunters and great leadoff hitters.”
Five of North Scott’s runs in the nightcap were aided by five PV (11-3, 5-1) errors. It didn’t help that starting center fielder Emily Wood left the second game with an apparent shoulder injury after attempting a diving catch.
Four of the errors came after Wood’s exit.
“We just kept making them over and over again,” Spartans head coach Jose Lara said. “I’m not going to make any excuses for them. Lack of focus, not playing the field.”
Five players had two or more hits in both games for North Scott. Cheek earned her fourth win in the nightcap.
PV’s Carli Spelhaug launched a game-tying 3-run home run in Game 1, answering a 3-run long ball by Anderson to tie the game at four.
With the bases loaded in the seventh, Bell Luebken — down two strikes in the count — squared up to bunt on the next two pitches, both balls.
The junior shortstop hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly to make it 5-4 Spartans. They scored four more runs in the inning, a grand total of eight runs and eight hits over the sixth and seventh innings.
“I use that to keep my eye on the ball and stay focused,” Luebken said. “It all came down to energy. We wanted to come back and get those runs back.”
Kaitlyn Drish remained perfect on the year with her sixth win of the season for PV. Jessi Meyer and Sophia Lindquist each had two hits in the first game.