JANESVILLE — As the American flag’s stripes whipped away from home plate Wednesday afternoon in Janesville, softball pitchers knew they were in for a challenging day inside the circle.
Clarksville’s Kori Wedeking was unfazed by the test she encountered. Wedeking buckled down after seeing the wind take a fly ball over the left field fence for a three-run homer in the first inning, and retired the next 15 consecutive batters she faced, with 10 of her total 14 strikeouts coming during that stretch.
Elite pitching combined with an offense that applied constant pressure helped Clarksville secure a 9-4 road victory over Janesville in a battle featuring two of the Iowa Star Conference’s top teams.
“I don’t really try to focus too much on the weather and stuff, just pitch my game and try to do what I do,” said Wedeking, who allowed just two hits and gave up only two walks. “The first inning I’m not hitting my spots that well, so after that I’m really focusing on spin and hitting the spots.”
Clarksville (12-0) has now handed Janesville (6-3) two of its losses this season after falling to the Wildcats, 1-0, in last year’s regional final. A Clarksville team that reached the state finals two years ago has maintained the same core group of players for three to four years of varsity softball.
“We’ve started to get a little closer, and as we’ve gotten older, we’ve started to know a little bit more about the game,” Kori Wedeking said. “That definitely helps and makes us better.”
Added Clarksville coach Katie Wedeking, “They’ve definitely matured and they know what it feels like to succeed as a team. Hopefully this is their year.”
Clarksville applied immediate pressure on Janesville’s ace Bailey Hoff in Wednesday’s contest by sending all nine hitters to the plate in the top of the first inning. Ainsley Lovrien doubled to the left field fence, and Janet Borchardt lofted up a three-run homer two batters later. No. 8 hitter Bailey Myers drove in two more runs with a line-drive single to right field.
Janesville immediately responded in the bottom half of the frame with its first two hitters reaching on errors before Hoff skied a three-run homer.
“That was good because we could have just thrown in the towel right there after that top half of inning,” Janesville coach Shelly Sorensen said of her team’s response. “We fought back there, were able to get a few runs back, and battled throughout the game. They’re a great team so you’ve got to come ready to play.”
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Backed by a strong defense, Janesville’s Hoff didn’t surrender another run until a four-run fifth inning capped by a two-RBI double from Wedeking and a run-scoring single by Lovrien.
In total, all nine Clarksville hitters reached base with the Indians recording seven hits and drawing eight walks while also benefiting from six errors.
“I think we got on the bats pretty well,” Katie Wedeking said. “They made a lot of good plays so nine runs out of that is pretty good.
“I think our defense is pretty solid all the way through. Offense is what we’ve been focusing on.”
Hoff tallied both of Janesville’s hits and drove in all four runs, but Kori Wedeking often kept the rest of the Janesville lineup off balance with her mix of movement and power.
“Anytime you can face a great pitcher like that it’s great experience because you don’t see that every night out,” Sorensen said. “There’s only one way to figure out how to get that bat around on that type of pitch, and all the different types of pitches she throws.”
Clarksville 9, Janesville 4
Clarksville 500 040 0 — 9 7 2
Janesville 300 001 0 — 4 2 6
Kori Wedeking and Ainsley Lovrien. Bailey Hoff and Hope Hovenga. WP — Wedeking. LP — Hoff. 2B — Lovrien, Wedeking (Clarksville). HRs — Janet Borchardt (Clarksville), Hoff (Janesville).