The first four batters for Storm Lake justified their position on the top of the Tornadoes lineup card on Friday night, as they collected three hits, had four runs batted in and scored all five of their team's runs in a big 5-1 victory over LeMars.
Trish Halder, Stacy Schmidt, Mel Fisher and Billie Blanchard provided much of the offensive punch for the Tornadoes, who accumulated only five hits in the game but strung together scoring rallies in the first, third and fifth innings to improve to 25-13 overall and 11-3 in the Lakes Conference.
Schmidt continued to shine on the field in her return from injury, knocking a double off Bulldogs pitcher Lyndsey Sponder and scoring a run in the third inning, and Halder, Schmidt and Blanchard all touched the plate in a three-run fifth inning that gave the Tornadoes a more comfortable lead heading into the final innings.
Halder ended the game 1-3 with one run scored, Schmidt went 1-3 with two runs scored, Fisher produced a two-RBI double and scored twice and Blanchard contributed two doubles and two runs batted in.
The Tornadoes also received a lift from second baseman Amy Sennert on the defensive side, as she recorded six assists, including two of the three outs in the first and third innings.
"Defensively Amy Sennert came up huge for us," Storm Lake head coach Jason Stoltzfus said. "It proved to be the difference as LeMars threatened many times."
One of the biggest threats from LeMars came in the top of the seventh, when the Bulldogs loaded the bases with one out and then scored one run when Mel Fisher's pickoff throw to third base went past Ty Zimmerman into left field, allowing Krista Nilles to score. Halder, who relieved Anna Paulsen after 6 1/3 innings, then struck out Katie Sponder and Lyndsey Sponder to end the game with two runners still stranded on base.
Paulsen gave up eight hits and struck out three Bulldogs for Storm Lake, who played Sioux City North in a varsity doubleheader last night at home and will travel to Sheldon tonight and Spencer Wednesday evening to wrap up the regular season.
In junior varsity action, Storm Lake shut out LeMars, 4-0, behind two hits from Lindsay Guenther and an 11-strikeout performance from Morgan Darrow on the mound. The JV team is now 15-0.