June 14, 2018 By Chris Varney
Grinnell played with Pella for the first 3 1/2 innings but the bottom fell out of the tub in the bottom of the 4th as the Dutch erupted for 8 runs to build a big lead and finished off the Tigers on the 10 run rule with a 15-5 win in 6 innings last night in Pella.
The Tigers just committed too many mental mistakes which you cannot do against Little Hawkeye teams. Not covering bases. Getting picked off to end the inning with a run producer at the plate. Fielding bunts but not knowing what to do with the ball. Getting behind the hitters in the pitch count. These were some of the errors committed last night. On my stats, Grinnell had 2 errors but there were a lot of other miscues that will not show up in the box score.
The line for Meredith McKnight does not look good — 3+ innings pitched, 11 runs allowed, 8 earned, 13 hits, 1 walk and 3 strikeouts — but she deserved a better fate. Pella scored 2 unearned runs in the first inning after McKnight appeared to get out of a jam by striking out Destiny Brown. The ball though bounced in the dirt and nobody covered first base so the throw to complete the out went into right field. McKnight did get behind the hitters in the count in the 3rd inning and allowed some pretty hard hit balls but escaped with only allowing 2 runs. The 4th inning was a nightmare as Pella used the small ball — 5 total bunts and a couple went for hits, a double that got behind the outfield — it was Murphy’s Law in force as the Dutch put pressure on the Grinnell defense to make a play and they could not stop it from happening.
Grinnell has a lot of talent but it is young talent. Megan Doty and Kiana Kies are the leaders and are juniors. There are no seniors on this team and you cannot replace experience. The Tigers have improved significantly on offense. Freshman Hannah Behrens is a good example — last year as an 8th grader, she batted .182. Going into last night, Behrens was hitting .382 and she went 1-2 with a run scored. Kies missed all of last year with an injury and is batting .343. Doty is crushing the ball at a .400 clip. Grinnell’s starting line-up last night featured 2 juniors, 1 sophomore, 5 freshmen and 2 8th graders.
In order for Grinnell to be competitive in the Little Hawkeye, they will have to sort out their pitching and defense. McKnight, Lydia Roudabush and Behrens are not overpowering pitchers so they need time to develop their control and pitching style. Defense is more than just not committing errors — its the understanding game situations and reacting instead of thinking. Again, time is needed.
By the way, Happy Flag Day.