Howdeshell, Coleman hit grand slams in Rochester rout of Warsaw
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
It’s not easy to lead the state in batting average. Then again, it’s not easy to come back from a torn ACL.
Emma Howdeshell is doing both.
The junior shortstop went 4 for 5 with six RBIs, including a first-inning grand slam to lead the Rochester softball team to a 24-11 win in five innings over Warsaw at Fanler Field Saturday.
Howdeshell increased her batting average from .771 to .775 with her performance. She has 31 hits in 40 at-bats for the season.
Kylie Coleman also hit a grand slam to straightaway center as part of a seven-run second as the Lady Z built a 20-3 lead.
Sydney Haughs, Haley Durkes and Keyton Doran had two hits and two RBIs each. Darah Strasser had three hits and two runs scored.
Emma Sells singled, walked three times, drove in two runs and scored three runs. Kallie Watson singled, walked twice, was hit by a pitch and scored three runs. Mia Howdeshell did not have an at-bat, but she walked twice, was hit by a pitch three times, drove in a run and scored three runs.
“Patient,” Rochester coach Becky Lee said in describing her team’s offense. “We were patient. We found our pitch, and we drove the ball. We didn’t try to overpower the ball. We just tried to put the ball in play and make solid contact, and I feel like we did that well.”
Mia Howdeshell also pitched four innings for the win.
Rochester improved to 6-6. Warsaw fell to 3-13.
Rochester scored nine of their 13 runs in the first inning after two were out. Sells and Watson drew back-to-back bases loaded walks off Warsaw pitcher Marisol Bowers. That brought up Emma Howdeshell, who had driven in a double earlier in the inning. This time, she sent a fly ball to deep left-center field that she said the wind pushed over the fence to make it 10-1.
“I thought I had popped out to center field, so I was sprinting around the bases,” Emma Howdeshell said. “I had to wait for Coach to tell me.”
Said Lee of Emma Howdeshell: “She’s always been a very great player. She’s just making solid contact on the ball, digging some balls out that she gets hits on that for a lot of people end up being outs, but because she’s so quick so her speed and her ability to hit the ball in gaps is huge for her.”
A dropped pop-up on a ball hit by Durkes with the bases loaded made it 12-1, and Doran’s second RBI single of the inning made it 13-1.
Kalista Ousley’s two-run single in the top of the second inning cut the lead to 13-3.
But Strasser’s bunt single, Watson’s walk and Emma Howdeshell’s single preceded Coleman’s big fly to make it 17-3.
Durkes, Sells and Watson later added RBI singles in the inning.
Warsaw’s pitchers didn’t have the speed that some previous Lady Z opponents had, so Emma Howdeshell said that hitters had to stay a split second longer on their back foot. She also said that hard work in practice was paying off.
For Emma personally, her softball success came after a long winter recovering from a torn ACL that she suffered in a basketball game at Caston on Nov. 6. She said rehab after surgery was initially painful and then boring.
The ability to be ready for the start of softball season motivated her. She said she was not allowed to slide when practice began on March 7 as she learned “to get my feet under me.” That limitation has since been lifted.
She also is not allowed to play catcher. That has kept her from catching her sister Mia.
“I’m just excited to be back and playing,” Emma said. “I worked hard, and I’m just really excited to be back.”
Rochester 24, Warsaw 11 (5 innings)
Warsaw 120 44 – 11 7 2
Rochester (13)70 4X – 24 17 0
WP – Mia Howdeshell (4 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 5 K)
LP – Marisol Bowers (⅔ IP, 8 H, 13 R, 13 ER, 5 BB, 2 HBP, 0 K)
2B – Kalista Ousley 2 (WAR), Emma Howdeshell (RHS)
HR – Avery Sleeth (WAR), Emma Howdeshell (RHS), Kylie Coleman (RHS)