Capital City softball bookends big innings in win vs. Linn

Capital City's Danijah Fluellen slides safely in home plate to score a run ahead of the throw to Linn catcher Kylie Peters during the second inning of Wednesday night's game at Capital City High School. (Greg Jackson/News Tribune)

It was a strong start by the Capital City softball team. It was a strong finish, too.

The Lady Cavaliers scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning and added two insurance runs in the sixth inning Wednesday, defeating the Linn Lady Wildcats 8-5 at Capital City High School.

“It was a night and day difference from Monday,” Capital City assistant coach Adam Grunden said. “We squared up a lot of balls. It may not necessarily show up in the scorebook, but we hit the heck out of the ball today.”

  Gallery: Capital City Softball vs. Linn

Faith Karr started the first inning with a single to right-center field, then McKenna Schwarzer reach on an infield single for the Lady Cavaliers. Both runners advanced a base on a wild pitch and both scored when Lydia Coulson reached on an error, putting Capital City in front 2-0.

Coulson scored on a double-steal and Kylie Baker scored on another Linn error, doubling the lead to 4-0.

“We were hitting hitter’s pitches, we were swinging in offensive counts,” Grunden said. “We were making great contact with the ball and not trying to put too much pressure on ourselves.”

Kenzy Hackmann hit a one-out infield single and scored on a wild pitch in the second inning for Linn’s first run of the game. In the bottom of the second, Danijah Fluellen hit a leadoff single to center field and scored on a sacrifice bunt by McKenna Schwarzer, making the score 5-1.

After Fluellen’s single, Linn pitcher Sophia Voss retired nine of the next 11 batters she faced.

Linn scored four runs in the top of the fourth inning, tying the game at 5.

Hackmann drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on an error that put Kiana Hostetler on second base. Hostetler later scored on a wild pitch, closing the gap to 5-3.

Kylie Peters walked, Ava Warren singled into center field and Ellie Dudenhoeffer reached on an infield single, plating courtesy runner Heslie Higginbotham. Warren scored on a groundout to tie the game at 5.

“We’ve been doing that, we’ve battled back from being down,” Linn coach Ryan Rost said. “I’ve told this group that any time that we’re losing, we don’t get too worried because we know we’re going to find our way and battle back.”

The last Linn run was credited to Capital City relief pitcher Macy Dudenhoeffer, but the freshman right-hander quickly got into a groove. She shut down Linn in the final three innings to earn her first career win.

“We’re super proud of Macy and how she has come on,” Grunden said.

Dudenhoeffer gave up one run on three hits with no walks and two strikeouts in 3⅔ innings of relief of Emma Stieferman.

In a game that featured several hard-hit balls right at infielders, Capital City finally caught a break in the fifth inning.

With two outs, Annie Spratt hit a line drive that caromed off the third baseman toward the middle of the field. Stieferman came all the way around from second base to score, giving the Lady Cavaliers a 6-5 advantage.

“Annie had a good at-bat, she hit the ball really hard,” Grunden said. “When you hit the ball hard, it’s going to find holes. And Emma had a heads-up play running the bases.”

Capital City added two more runs in the sixth. With two outs, Stieferman hit a single that glanced off the center fielder’s glove, scoring Schwarzer. Stieferman advanced to third base on a throwing error and scored on a fielding error to make it a three-run lead.

“Our four first games, we didn’t look like that,” said Rost, whose team committed five errors. “That wasn’t us tonight.”

Fluellen finished with a pair of singles and stole three bases to lead the Lady Cavalier offense from the No. 9 spot in the batting order.

Warren led the Lady Wildcats with a pair of singles. Voss pitched six innings, striking out four and walking three.

“This is a fairly young group,” Rost said. “We’ve played really well together, we’ve hit really well. That’s what was frustrating about tonight, our bats didn’t really carry over from the past few days.”

Capital City (2-3) hosts defending Class 3 state champion Fatima at 5 p.m. Friday.

Linn (4-1) hosts Owensville at 5 p.m. today.

In Wednesday’s JV game, Linn defeated Capital City 16-10.