New Bloomfield took some at-bats to figure Linn out and then hit them hard.
The Lady Wildcats had a four-run lead going into the bottom of the fifth before the floodgates opened and New Bloomfield defeated its Show-Me Conference rival 12-2 in five innings.
Head coach Dara Reinkemeyer said she is also pleased the rest of the offense figured it out as well as New Bloomfield (6-3, 3-1 SMC) has had some games where it has faced tough pitching and hasn't scored any runs. When the Lady Wildcats do, every batter is a threat in the lineup, she said.
"Usually, those innings are toward the middle or the end of the game so I think the girls are learning to adjust better and quicker," Reinkemeyer said. "They are good hitters, and we just have to adjust to the pitching. The more they do it, the more confident they become."
Prior to a six-run fifth, runs were coming at a premium and defense was playing an important role. Linn (5-6, 1-1 SMC) capitalized on New Bloomfield's inability to handle throws at third base and then home plate to nab a runner, taking a 1-0 second-inning lead.
Linn pitcher Aushara Hostetler dueled New Bloomfield senior Asya Nichols as offenses had to scratch runs across to compete. New Bloomfield senior Jenna Nichols hit a sac fly to tie the game, but Linn would continue to be stingy early.
Nichols then jumped on a pitch early in the count in the third inning, parking one over the center field wall. This came a long at-bat, which turned into a walk, by Hostetler in the previous inning. Another run came home on a groundout by senior Brooklynn Smith, making it 3-1 after three.
After that stroll around the bases, Linn was making Nichols work in the circle by fouling off several pitches, drawing the occassional walk and loading the bases in the fourth with the game still at 3-1. A foul ball around the New Bloomfield dugout just stayed in the fence to be caught for the third out. Reinkemeyer said Nichols — five innings with five hits, two runs (one earned), two walks and two strikeouts — worked ahead of batters much of the time so she was able to pitch around and not give Linn much to hit.
"By starting ahead in her pitch count to each batter, it gave her more to work with so she didn't have to come straight at them," Reinkemeyer said. "That definitely helps with getting balls to be popped up and or ground outs, which her defense makes the majority of those plays for her."
With dark clouds hanging overhead, the Lady Wildcats' bats started to pour on runs in the final two innings. New Bloomfield loaded the bases in the fourth, setting up RBI hits by freshman Macie Abbott and Smith, to make it 6-1.
A deluge followed in the fifth as senior Kamryn Herron stayed in a rundown between first and second and made it to second safely after Linn mishandled the ball. Senior Brinley Dysart emptied the bases with a two-run double, senior Brooke Talbot did the same on a triple and then scored on the seventh Linn error, and Jenna Nichols had the clinching RBI single. Asya Nichols went 3-for-4 with an RBI, Smith went 3-for-4 with two RBI, Dysart went 2-for-4 with two RBI and Talbot went 2-for-4 with two RBI.
New Bloomfield will look forward to its 5 p.m. Thursday home game against 2019 Class 3 state champion Helias (7-2-1). The Crusaders beat New Bloomfield last season 3-2 at Helias so Reinkemeyer does expect another tough contest on Thursday.
"Last year was a very close game with them so we're hoping for an intense ballgame because that way it will be good either way," she said.