Lions battle back in loss to Central Lee, win over Mediapolis

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Lone Tree softball has players that battle.

In consecutive home games last week against Central Lee and Mediapolis, the Lions faced significant deficits. First, they scratched and clawed and forced extra innings. Next, they flipped the script and won outright.

“We just know we can do it,” Lone Tree shortstop Ellen Carow said after the Lions fell to 14-win Central Lee in 10 innings, 10-8, Wednesday night at Lone Tree High School. “It feels good to battle back.”

Against the Hawks, Lone Tree (10-13, 6-8 Southeast Iowa Super Conference) trailed by four runs, 8-4, with just six outs to go. The Lions scored three times in the bottom of the sixth inning to pull within one, then senior Kinley Hayes tied the game at 8-8 in the bottom of the seventh with a single that scored freshman  Bella Pourroy from second base.

“I keep saying it over and over, but I think today was probably one of our best line-drive hitting nights, for sure,” Lone Tree Coach Jovonte Squiers said. “We have some that still need to work on some hitting a little bit, but in general, I think we did a really good job of hitting line drives and being more aggressive.”

The game remained deadlocked until the top of the 10th, when Central Lee senior Bella Steffensmeier hit a two-out, two-run home run that gave the visiting Hawks the lead for good.

“It is hard to lose in extra innings, but I think we pushed through,” Lone Tree senior pitcher Arlie Lorack said. “We knew that we could hold our own against this team. We knew coming in that they were going to hit the ball hard.”

Lorack pitched all 10 innings against Central Lee, then returned on Thursday night and tossed another seven frames as the Lions rallied from a 5-2 deficit with five runs in the fourth inning and two more in the sixth and defeated Mediapolis, 9-7.

It was the 10th win this season for Lorack, who has pitched all but 26 1/3 innings this season for Lone Tree.

“It might happen a little bit more here in the long run,” Squiers said. “She is going to be seeing the mound a lot more here as it gets to the end of the season. 

“We will doublecheck her, for sure, just to make sure everything is all right. If it is good, she’ll keep going the rest of the season. If she needs a little bit of a break, we’ll make sure she is ready to go for the postseason.”

Squiers is in his first season as Lone Tree coach. The former multisport Lions’ star was familiar with much of the softball roster through his time as assistant coach of the Lone Tree girls’ track and field team, where he worked with long jumpers and sprinters.

“He is actually a really good coach,” Carow said. “I feel like we were all a little timid at first just because he is young, but he actually knows what he is doing. He is good.”

After falling to Pekin Monday night, 7-2, the Lions will close the regular season with a home game against Wapello Tuesday. Regional play begins Friday in Class 1A against New London (4-18) at Lone Tree High School. Win there, and Lone Tree will earn another matchup with Wapello July 6.

“That would mean a lot because this senior class, we want to leave a legacy,” Lorack said. “We want to keep improving the softball program even after our years are done. We want to show everybody that anything is possible.”

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