Haley Pulse was masterful and her Indians teammates provided plenty of support in Camanche’s 8-0 victory over Northeast in a Class 2A Region 5 playoff opener Thursday.
Pulse allowed only four hits in the complete game shutout and when she needed them her defense was there. After committing 51 errors during the regular season, the Indians didn’t make any in their playoff opener. Not only did they make the routine plays, but they threw out a runner at third base and at home.
Pulse said it was one of the best games Camanche has played all season.
“Our defense was on tonight and so were our bats,” she said. “It took us a couple innings to get our bats going, but once they were on, they were on all night.”
Northeast pitcher Sammi Farrell retired the Indians in order the first two innings, but Camanche got its offense going in the third inning.
Libby Schnoor led off the inning with a line drive single over the shortstop. Brooke Cochran was up next and she missed a bunt attempt on the first pitch. On the second pitch, she showed bunt, but then pulled the bat back and slapped a single over the head of Northeast third baseman Brooke Puckett, who was charging in to field the bunt.
“I think the big break was Brooke Cochran’s little slug bunt right over the third baseman’s head,” Camanche coach Troy Dodd said. “That kind of got us rolling and got everybody excited. That helped out a lot.”
Pulse singled to load the bases. After a fielder’s choice that saw Schnoor forced out at home, Lindsey Grams stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out.
She lined the first pitch she saw into the gap in right-centerfield for a bases-clearing double.
“I was pretty excited with that, hitting in three runs,” Grams said. “(The pitch) was pretty close down the middle.”
While it took Camanche a couple innings to get started on offense, Northeast had its best chances to score early in the game.
Demi Diedrich led off the game with a single and stole second base. She tried to steal third as well, but was thrown out by catcher Jordan Goldbeck.
“They really set the tone when we got caught stealing at third when we had some momentum,” Northeast coach Travis Eversmeyer said.
Sydney Gray led off the third inning with a single for the Rebels and stole second base. Pulse struck out the next two batters, before Diedrich hit an infield single. Diedrich stole second, putting two runners in scoring position. Pulse got the next batter to fly out to centerfield ending the inning.
Northeast had another chance to score in the fourth. Sarah Schoon drew a one-out walk. Morgan McAleer came in as a courtesy runner for Schoon, the catcher and stole second base. After the second out of the inning, Kelsey Lorenzen singled into rightfield.
McAleer came around third, trying to score, but was thrown out by Sydney Grell ending the inning.
“Sydney Grell’s throw from outfield, I think that sealed the deal for us right there,” Dodd said. “She’s got a great arm and she’s a good player. Jordan Goldbeck did a good job putting that tag on her.”
Pulse retired the next nine batters to finish off the shutout and the win for Camanche.
“Haley really hit her spots well tonight,” Eversmeyer said. “Every ball that we hit was right at someone. She really pitched well tonight. Hats off to her for that.”
Dodd said: “Haley did an excellent job pitching, keeping them off-balance all night. I can’t say enough about our pitching. It was excellent tonight.”
Pulse said she really only used two pitches.
“My rise ball and my changeup (were working),” she said. “I like to stick with those two because they’re two completely different pitches. It keeps people off-balance pretty well.”
For the Indians’ offense, Cochran came through with the next big hit. She hit a two-out RBI single in the fourth inning that scored Schnoor.
In the fifth inning, Camanche took advantage of some defensive miscues by Northeast.
Grell reached on an error to lead off the inning. The next two batters hit a fly out and grounded into a fielder’s choice, so Farrell should have been out of the inning. But with two outs, Julia Moore reached on an error, putting two runners on base.
Ariel Edens, the fifth batter of the inning, made the Rebels pay for the extra opportunities. She hit a double to the right-center gap, scoring two runs.
Camanche added two more unearned runs in the seventh inning.
“I was happy with how with we did,” Grams said.
“The key was we played well as a team,” Dodd said. “Everybody made the routine plays. Everybody did their job at the plate and waited for good pitches.”
Pulse played ASA ball with Farrell and Schoon and said it was a little bittersweet to knock two friends out of the playoffs.
“It felt good to beat them,” Pulse said. “But you feel bad kind of a little in your heart.”
Pulse almost wasn’t around to lead the Indians into tonight’s regional quarterfinal at Durant, which begins at 7 p.m. She played for the Indians her eighth-grade season, but focused on ASA the last three seasons. She did well enough in ASA to play softball at Black Hawk College next year. She decided to don the Camanche uniform for one last season.
“I’m definitely glad that I gave it another shot,” Pulse said. “The girls are wonderful. They’re girls I’m going to miss when I go off to college in the fall.”
But what does she bring to the team?
“Well, a pitcher for one,” Dodd said with a laugh. “She did a good job pitching for us. She’s one who can be loud for us and start getting the team back on the track when their falling off.”
The Camanche players all braided their hair and dyed some blue into the braid as a show of team unity before the game.
Next up for the Indians is Durant-Bennett, which is the top-ranked team in Class 2A. Durant defeated Camanche 2-1 on June 17 in the only meeting between the two this season. Durant has lost its last four games.
“We need to do the same things,” Dodd said. “Be patient at the plate, good pitch selection, keeping their batters off-balance. We’ve got to believe.”
While the Indians were happy with their victory and making plans for tonight’s game, it was a different feeling for the Rebels.
“I’m kind of disappointed in the way we came out,” Eversmeyer said. “It’s not that they didn’t want to play well. I think we put a little too much pressure on ourselves. Camanche hit the ball extremely well. It just wasn’t our night tonight.”
Still, Eversmeyer said he was proud of the season his team had and the turnaround over the course of the last few years.
“When these seniors were eighth-graders, when they first came up, they went 6-24,” he said. “To kind of go full circle and now have a great season, I was happy to see that. We’re going to miss them so much. A lot of them have been starting since they were freshmen. They’re good people and they’re going to have great lives ahead of them.”
CAMANCHE 8, NORTHEAST 0
Camanche 003 120 2 — 8 10 0
Northeast 000 000 0 — 0 4 4
Haley Pulse (7 ip, 4 h, 0 r, 0 er, 1 bb, 4 k) and Jordan Goldbeck; Sammi Farrell (7 ip, 10 h, 8 r, 4 er, 1 bb, 1 k). Multiple hits — Camanche (Lindsey Grams 2-4, Ariel Edens 2-4, Brooke Cochran 2-3); Northeast (Demi Diedrich 2-3). 2B — Camanche (Grams, Edens). RBI — Camanche (Grams 3, Edens 2, Morgan Mussmann, Cochran).