Mustangs open regional softball with rout

Iola High plated nine runs in the first inning and never looked back Monday as the Mustangs blasted Neodesha, 16-1, to open the Class 3A regional playoffs. Iola takes on unbeaten Bluestem Wednesday in semifinal action.



May 14, 2024 - 1:00 PM

Iola High's Brooklyn Holloway connects on a third-inning home run Monday in a 16-1 victory over Neodesha to open the Class 3A regional playoffs. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

A renewed focus at the plate and in the field paid off handsomely for Iola High’s softball team Monday.

The Mustangs blasted out of the gates for nine first-inning runs and never looked back in a 16-1 romp over Neodesha to open the Class 3A regional playoffs.

The victory sets up Iola for a regional semifinal showdown with top-seeded and unbeaten Bluestem. 

The win also snapped a three-game losing streak for Iola (16-11) and was a marked improvement over the team’s defensive struggles that popped up at the end of the regular season.

“It was nice that they brought the most focus all year to the biggest game of the year,” Iola head coach Chris Weide said. “From the get-go, we were ready defensively, ready at the plate. We had great at-bats.”

Perhaps nobody was more focused than freshman center fielder Brooklyn Holloway, who drove in four runs on a 3-for-3 performance at the plate.

Iola High’s Kyndal Bycroft, foreground, reverses course on the base paths against Neodesha.Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

Holloway’s two-run single in the bottom of the first got the fun started. She then fouled off several tough pitches in the next two times to the plate. Her second-inning at-bat turned into a leadoff single to spark another scoring rally.

She then worked a full count in the bottom of the third before blasting her first  career home run, making it 13-1.

“The last pitch she fouled off was one she’d been striking out on recently,” Weide said. “Two pitches later, she hits a home run. It was a great at-bat.

“She just has that talent,” he continued. “We’re pretty hard on her in practice because she can be that good. She’d been struggling a bit lately and was a little down on herself. But she made a nice running catch in left-center, and I think that helped.”

BUT YOU DON’T win by 15 with just one player.

Every Mustang starter collected at least one hit. Zoie Hesse smashed two doubles, Elza Clift singled and tripled, while Harper Desmarteau and Kaysin Crusinbery each had a single and double. Reese Curry, Kinsey Schinstock and Alana Mader all had singles.

Clift got the pitching nod, and wobbled a bit in the first inning, hitting three batters and allowing a run, but settled down nicely from there.

She struck out five and allowed three hits over four innings in her first action from the mound in nearly two weeks because of a sore forearm.

“She hadn’t thrown too much, and was probably a little rusty,” Weide said. “She did a good job of getting to two-strike counts, but then would go a little too far inside.”

A slight adjustment in her setup from the pitching circle helped things considerably, Weide noted, in that she positioned herself a couple inches to the left, just far enough to keep those inside pitches nearer the strike zone.