On a day in Kenai when the wind had everything fluttering and flapping, the Skyview softball team steadied itself in the fifth inning and came away with a 20-6 Northern Lights Conference victory.
After the top of the second inning, Skyview had an 8-2 lead. But Kenai pitcher Alyson Quartly kept the Panthers off the board in the third and fourth innings, and Kenai had the gap down to 8-6 heading into the fifth inning.
But the Panthers took firm command of the game by sending 16 batters to the plate in the fifth and scoring 12 runs.
Skyview coach Steve Schoessler had a little chat with his team before the big inning.
“We were more aggressive on the basepaths,” Schoessler said after moving to 5-6 overall and 2-3 in the conference. “We started watching for signals during that rally.”
The Panthers also were able to scratch out five hits in the frame after four hits in the first four innings. But what Schoessler liked the most was that Skyview cut way down on strikeouts from recent games, striking out just three times.
That put the pressure on Kenai’s defense. In the second, third and fourth innings, the Kardinals were up to the task. But in the first and fifth innings, a mix of errors, wild pitches, passed balls, walks and hit batters led to big innings.
“We’ve got to get stronger up the middle on defense,” Kenai coach Mark King said after falling to 0-10 overall and 0-6 in the league.
King said he sees great promise in sophomore catcher Ashley Young. She caught a runner stealing in the third inning with her strong arm. But King said Young needs more experience.
Lynn Hesse was 3 for 4 with three runs for the Panthers, while Sam Reynolds was 2 for 3 with two runs. Mykaela Rybak and Aubrey Rodriguez scored three runs, while Cat Schoessler, Marina Rodriguez and Meghan Ussing had two runs. Ussing added two RBIs.
But the toughest task fell to Reynolds, who had to pitch through the constant dust clouds tossed about by the wind. Reynolds gave up nine hits and three earned runs while walking two and striking out six.
Not bad for conditions where Schoessler said he saw several throws curve 10 to 15 feet in the titanic gusts, which completely blew down the temporary outfield fencing.
“She’s that kind of person — she’s not very flappable,” Schoessler said of Reynolds. “She just keeps going.
“She’s been on basketball and volleyball teams where there’s a lot of drama, and she’s just like, ‘What drama?’”
The wind was cascading in from left field. That meant the Kardinals dugout would get a wave of dust blown into it at least once a minute. Skyview’s dugout was, for the most part, shielded from the wind.
“We couldn’t see a thing,” said King of the complete lack of home-field advantage. “That was the worst wind we’ve played in.”
But he also said Kenai played its best ball of the season, especially defensively in the middle innings. On offense, King said the Kards hadn’t been hitting since the first week of the season, but that changed Monday.
Christina Glenzel was 3 for 3 with two runs, a double and a triple, while Quartly was 2 for 3 with two RBIs, Cierra King was 2 for 3 with a run, Darian Saltenberger was 2 for 3 and Havan Shaginoff had two runs.
King also gave credit to pitchers Quartly and Reynolds for sticking it out on the mound.
“They have to be exhausted,” he said. “That was a lot of work.”