The future is now: Zimpleman, Oliver, Scales homer as Caston corrals Carroll in opener
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
FULTON –- The freshmen on the Caston softball team might have been playing their first high school game against visiting Carroll (Flora) Friday, but playing softball is nothing new to them.
They have been playing travel ball since they were in 10-and-under leagues. They have been playing competitively since they were even younger than that.
So when Addison Zimpleman slugged a solo homer in the first inning in the first at-bat of her high school career, it might be safe to say that this was not beginner’s luck.
The onslaught that followed was more of the same. A lot more.
Zimpleman went 4 for 4 with four RBIs, and Layne Oliver and Isabel Scales also homered as the Lady Comets won 19-1 in five innings. Scales finished with three hits and three RBIs.
First-year Caston coach Jon Burks said the result was a product of what the team had worked on all winter.
“We’ve still got some work to do, but it’s looking good,” Burks said. “It really is. I’m really impressed.”
Kinzie Mollenkopf had a single, a double and three RBIs. Leadoff hitter Maddi Smith had a pair of infield singles. Annie Harsh doubled, walked twice and had an RBI and three runs scored.
Zimpleman allowed Allison O’Brien’s RBI single in the top of the first, but she followed by allowing only two baserunners over the final four innings. She finished with eight strikeouts.
“She’s got a load of confidence,” Burks said of Zimpleman. “She’s high-spirited. We’ve got to keep her at bay a little bit. But a gamer for sure, definitely a gamer.”
Scales, a freshman starting her first varsity game at catcher, gunned down one of those two trying to steal in the fourth inning.
Zimpleman’s homer in the bottom of the first came after the first two hitters were retired. Scales then singled, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Annie Harsh’s go-ahead RBI double. Harsh would later score on an error on Rebekah Milburn’s fly ball which was dropped to make it 3-1.
Oliver scored on an error, and Zimpleman had an RBI single in the second that made it 5-1.
Then came an 11-run third inning in which the carousel was operating at full speed.
Harsh reached on an error and scored on Milburn’s RBI single. Milburn went to second on the throw home and later scored when Bailey Harness reached on a sacrifice bunt and an error.
After a pair of errors loaded the bases, Smith’s RBI infield single made it 8-1.
Mollenkopf smoked a liner that missed being a grand slam by inches, bouncing high off the outfield fence for a three-run double that made it 11-1.
Zimpleman’s RBI single made it 12-1. Scales roped an RBI double to make it 13-1. Harness was retired on a safety squeeze bunt with Scales scoring to make it 14-1.
Oliver’s tape-measure homer to left-center scored Harsh ahead of her to make it 16-1.
Zimpleman lined an RBI triple to deep right and Scales had a two-run homer in the fourth to complete the scoring.
Zimpleman, Scales, Harsh and Macee Hinderlider gave Caston four freshmen in the starting lineup. Mollenkopf and Harness are sophomores who were also playing in their first high school game.
Zimpleman, Scales, Harsh, Hinderlider and Mollenkopf are travel ball teammates who have played with each other for years.
“I’m very excited for this season with all these girls,” Scales said. “With two or three of them, we’ve played since like fifth grade together. We’ve played on a travel ball team for like five years. So we’re really close. But with all these girls, this is the first year because of last year and everything with COVID. So this is the first year with this team, but I’m really enjoying it.”
Was Scales nervous at all?
“Oh yeah,” she said with a smile. “But after that first pitch got going, the nerves went away, and we just played, and it was fun.”
Zimpleman and Mollenkopf are expected to be Caston’s top two pitchers. Burks has had his hitters face Zimpleman and Mollenkopf in batting practice. He thinks that facing live pitchers like Zimpleman and Mollenkopf in batting practice will help his hitters when they face tougher pitching as the season progresses.
Scales praised Burks, saying that he can be fun but also knows when to be serious. Burks is a former Caston faculty member who also works as a union glazer.
“Softball has been pretty much a lot of my life,” Burks said. “It has been my life. I just want to give back, and I do like to coach and be a part of the game. I hope that my enthusiasm and my love for the game carries over to the girls, and I think they see that, and I think we’re going to have a good year this year.”
Seniors Eillie Deming and Olivia Boldry both missed the game due to injuries. Deming and Boldry are expected to slot into the lineup at catcher and right field, respectively, when they get healthy.
Caston 19, Carroll (Flora) 1 (5 innings)
Carroll 100 00 – 1 4 6
Caston 32(11) 3X – 19 15 0
WP – Addison Zimpleman
LP – Kayla Gish
2B – Annie Harsh (CAS), Kinzie Mollenkopf (CAS), Isabel Scales (CAS)
3B – Addison Zimpleman (CAS)
HR – Addison Zimpleman (CAS), Layne Oliver (CAS), Isabel Scales (CAS)