Rain can’t put damper on Gehlen softball win over H-LP
LE MARS — A light, but steady rain fell throughout the course of Thursday’s softball game between Gehlen Catholic and Harris-Lake Park, but it couldn’t put a damper on a 7-0 win for the Lady Jays.
The rain didn’t have much effect on how pitcher Rylee Schnepf was able to throw the ball as she finished with the complete game shutout win and struck out 11.
“I think it was more humid so my hands were more sticky than they were slippery, so I think that kind of helped,” Schnepf said. “There were a few wild pitches, but you’ve got to work with what you’ve got to work with.”
The win was the 50th of Schnepf’s career and saw her reach 600 career strikeouts. Schnepf hasn’t been keeping track of those numbers, but reflected on what they mean over the course of her career which began as an eighth grader for the Lady Jays.
“It’s exciting now because I’m a senior and I hit that big number,” Schnepf said. “It’s exciting to say I made it to 600. It’s very exciting to see all the success that we’ve had.”
Gehlen Head Coach Tony Gunter said Rylee’s success is a product of hard work.
“It’s all the hard work that she put in as a little kid,” Gunter said. “That’s also being good enough to being able to start as an eighth grader.”
The Jays scored in each of the first three innings, but could not extend any of the innings for more than two runs.
Kenzi Alesch led off the first with a bunt single and advanced on a wild pitch. She moved to third on a ground out and came home on another ground out off the bat of Nevaeh Hodgson.
The Jays scored two runs in the second. Larissa Pohlen led off with a bunt single and Haley Lubben followed with an infield single. The two runs came around to score on misplays from the Wolves in the field on an errant throw from the catcher trying to catch one of the runners and then on a pitch which went to the backstop.
Gehlen made it a 4-0 lead in the third as Schnepf hit an RBI double. She later led off the sixth inning with a double.
“She was a little bit slower than what we’re used to, so just getting the timing down that first at-bat you don’t really know what to expect, but then after that you know that it’s going to come in slower so you’ve got to wait on it,” Schnepf said. “We’ve been taking about 90 swings in the cage everyday off the tee and I think that’s really been helping us.”
Schnepf’s courtesy runner in the sixth, Grace Kellen, came home on a wild pitch. Pohlen reached on a base hit and eventually scored on a squeeze bunt from Lubben. Ellie Arens beat out an infield hit which brought in the last run for the team.
With the Jays not getting out to their 7-0 lead until the sixth inning, Gehlen kept with Schnepf in the circle for all seven innings.
“Rylee was dominant,” Gunter said. “We wanted to limit her pitch count and was hoping to even get her out of the game, but we didn’t score a ton of runs. We got an early lead, but we couldn’t do much after that. We ended up winning with a shutout. I think we made every defensive play we were supposed to and what more could you want.”
Gehlen improved to 5-5 with the win. Harris-Lake Park fell to 1-11 with the loss.