It's tough to beat a combination of strong pitching and timely hitting.
That characterized the Storm Lake High softball team's two hard-earned Lakes Conference wins this week.
Thursday night, the Tornadoes outbattled rival Cherokee, 5-1 while Wednesday, they turned back Spencer, 9-0. With the two wins, Storm Lake improved to 8-1 in Lakes play and to 19-5 overall.
In Thursday's game, sophomore righthander Trish Halder allowed just one earned run and three hits, striking out seven and not walking a batter.
The Tornadoes scored twice in the bottom of the first inning on a line-shot, two-run single by Ty Zimmerman.
Neither Cherokee or Storm Lake scored for the next four and a half inning, as Halder and the Tornado defense nursed the 2-0 lead.
Cherokee got to within 2-1 in the top of the fifth with a single run. But the Tornadoes added three important insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth and Halder retired Cherokee without incident in the top of the seventh for the win.
"Both teams played well," said Storm Lake coach Jason Stoltzfus. "It was a great battle."
In the sixth, Sloltzfus said, his team was sparked by singles from Heidi Hammen, Trish Halder and senior Molly Daniels.
The Tornadoes outhit Cherokee 13-5, with Zimmerman going 3 for 3 and Daniels and Morgan Darrow notching two hits each.
Wednesday after a scoreless first inning, Storm Lake scored two runs in the top of the second for a quick lead.
"Jess Overturf got things started with a two-run shot to leftfield," said Stoltzfus. "She's been waiting all her career for that hit. We were nearly flawless after that."
Junior Anna Paulsen got the mound win, allowing just three hits, not walking a batter and notching five strikeouts.
The Tornadoes made it easier for Paulsen in the later innings. After adding a single run in the third, they scored three in each of the fifth and sixth frames.
Storm Lake outhit Spencer, 11-3. Junior catcher Mel Fisher went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI while Overturf was 2 for 4 with 3 RBI. Daniels went 2 for 4 with an RBI while Halder, Zimmerman, Paulsen, Darrow and junior Amy Sennert each had run-scoring hits.
Meanwhile, the Storm Lake junior varsity softball team edged Spencer 6-5 Wednesday but lost to Cherokee 8-5, dropping to 6-2 in conference play.
On Wednesday, the JV team scored three runs in the top of the seventh to rally for the win. Katie Overturf led off with a single, stole second and was driven in by a single by Amanda Proczak. Amy Kessler then singled, stole second and was knocked in by Ali Kofmehl, who later scored on a two-out single by Kata Harvey. Erin Anderson got the mound win.