By Brenden West Assistant Sports Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON — In every conceivable way, there was seemingly no chance Clinton would bounce back from a 12-0 opening loss to Davenport North in Mondya’s doubleheader. The first game lasted less than an hour; the Wildcats cranked two home runs in one inning (the five-run second) and their pitcher, Lexie Pairrett, threw four quick innings, probably with enough gas to mow down seven more.
The loss was as ugly as it gets according to Clinton coach Trina Cewe, especially after scoring five runs on one of Iowa’s top-rated teams last week against Bettendorf.
“I told (the girls) I was embarrassed,” Cewe said. “I said to them, ‘If you don’t have any passion or energy for the sport, then why do you play?’ I was just looking for that fire I know they have.”
Suddenly, there the River Queens were, late in Game 2, hanging around. There was Sydney Davis, in the fifth inning, knocking a triple to the right-center gap and scoring two of her teammates to tie Game 2, 3-3. Two batters later, there was Davis’ sister, Keirstyn, taking an intentional walk and then leisurely strolling through first as though she was entitled to more than just one free base.
The River Queens caught the Wildcats napping. Keirstyn Davis induced a rundown allowing Sydney to sneak home, giving Clinton its first (improbable) lead of the evening, 4-3, on a sister-sister double steal.
“Every time its me and Keirstyn on first and third, we know that when she gets in a rundown, I’m going to score somehow, some way,” Sydney Davis said.
“It’s a chance you take,” Cewe said. “When (Keirstyn) gets walked she gets a little bit fiery. We were hoping they’d throw her down and Syd could take home.”
North regained the lead 5-4 on a bloop two-RBI single from Shianne Burks in the sixth inning, setting up a wild finish. Clinton’s awakening was enough for Wildcats coach Jeff Manders to recall Game 1 starter Pairrett to hurl the final two innings. Pairrett followed with a 1-2-3 sixth inning.
Clinton starter Allyson Whitehead returned the favor by sending down three straight in the top half of the seventh. In the final frame, the River Queens had the top of the order to bat against an ace that was nearly perfect against them.
“The confidence was there, and there was more spirit for the team,” Whitehead said of the difference between Games 1 and 2. For her part, Whitehead kept North’s offense at bay, allowing only five runs and striking out two. “After our little talk (between games), it really helped us come together as a team.”
Cara Brewer led off the seventh and sent a pop up to centerfield. The ball was dropped — an error that put the tying runner on first with no outs. Sydney Davis sacrificed Brewer to second, and a passed ball scooted her to third.
The next batter, Taylor Altemeier, was robbed. She sent a hooking liner foul, up the third baseline, only to be snatched for the second out by a stretching Hope Scheffert, who sprinted all the way from shortstop to take a batter away for out number two.
The Wildcats, again, intentionally walked Keirstyn Davis, but weren’t going to be fooled twice, allowing her to trot to second without hesitating. The game came down to Kayla Altemeier with two outs and two runners in scoring position.
Kayla worked a 2-2 count and fought off several foul balls before Pairrett fanned her for the final out of the game, the Wildcats winning 5-4.
Although it meant another Mississippi Athletic Conference sweep for Cewe’s River Queens (3-10, 3-7 in the MAC), the way it ended was at least something to build on.
“We leave with a little bit higher spirits,” Cewe said. “Not as high as we could.”
Clinton piled up seven hits in the second game, compared to two in the opener. Brewer and Sydney Davis both had two hits in Game 2, with Jenna Stremlow entering the night cap lineup and scoring two runs.
All hitters were outdone by a big day at the plate from North’s Kaela Moeller. She went 6-for-6 between both games, adding a three-run homer in Game 1 and four hits in Game 2.
Defensively Pairrett finished with eight strikeouts in six innings with no runs allowed through two games.
Manders acknowledged Clinton’s young roster is bound to have ups and downs, a reason for discrepancies in both scores.
“They’re not that bad a team,” Manders said. “They’re a good team when they start hitting the ball. They got into the game and got motivated, and that put us on our heals for a while.
“We’re a senior-oriented team, so we don’t have the highs and lows. You get the young players in there, and get them motivated, and look — they almost beat us. So hats off to them.”
Clinton travels to Calamus-Wheatland for one game tonight at 7 p.m.
DAVENPORT NORTH 12, CLINTON 0
Dav. North 051 6 — 12 9 0
Clinton 000 0 — 0 2 3
Lexie Pairrett (4 ip, 2 h, 0 r, 5 so) and Morgan Smith; Sydney Davis (1 2/3 ip, 4 h, 4 r, 4 er, 2 bb), Halee Vicks (2 1/3 ip, 6 h, 8 r, 6 er, 3 bb) and Cara Brewer. Multiple hits — North (Kaela Moeller 2, Amanda Herrington 2, Jenna Ringsdorf 2). 2B — North (Rachael Sneddon). HR — North (Moeller, Maranda Claussen). RBI — North (Hope Scheffert, Moeller 3, Herrington, Claussen, Ringsdorf 2, Sneddon 2).
DAVENPORT NORTH 5, CLINTON 4
Dav. North 110 012 0 — 5 10 1
Clinton 001 030 0 — 4 7 5
Jenna Ringsdorf (5 ip, 7 h, 4 r, 4 er, 2 bb, 3 so), Lexie Pairrett (2 ip, 0 h, 0 r, 1 bb, 3 so) and Morgan Smith; Allyson Whitehead (7 ip, 10 h, 5 r, 4 er, 3 bb, 2 so) and Cara Brewer. Multiple hits — North (Hope Scheffert 2, Kaela Moeller 4, Shianne Burks 2), Clinton (Cara Brewer 2, Sydney Davis 2). 2B — North (Scheffert). 3B — Clinton (S. Davis). RBI — North (Scheffert, Moeller, Burks 2), Clinton (S. Davis 2, Taylor Altemeier).