Sydney Morris and her Ankeny Centennial softball teammates are hitting the ball with a lot more power this season.
Morris blasted three home runs, Mackenzie James had a pair, and Jordyn Kennedy added another blast as the seventh-ranked Jaguars defeated two ranked opponents at the Centennial Invitational on Friday. Coach Brett Delaney’s squad has already hit 10 homers, matching the entire season output by last year’s team.
Morris went 3-for-3 with two doubles, a home run and four RBIs as Centennial rolled to a 14-1 victory over Creston in four innings in its second game of the tournament. The Panthers (3-3) are ranked 12th in Class 4A.
“I am seeing the ball very well right now,” said Morris, who raised her batting average to .519.
The senior catcher and first baseman entered the season with two career homers. She now leads the Jaguars (7-1) with four roundtrippers–all in the last five games.
“I’ve made a couple adjustments in my swing since last season with the help of my coaches and of course my dad (Bill)!” Morris said. “I think those adjustments have given me more power this year, and I’ve tried to be more selective with my pitches. My teammates are also so supportive of me and hype me up, which gives me a lot of confidence up at the plate!”
Morris said she’s also more relaxed in the batter’s box.
“I think specifically with this year being my last year of softball, my approach at the plate has changed quite a bit!” she said. “I’m a lot less stressed at the plate, and I’m just going up with the mentality to give it all I got and not thinking too much because this is it, and I don’t have another season after this. My teammates, coaches, and my dad have definitely played a huge part in my success so far this year, and I’m very fortunate to have such an amazing support system.”
Kennedy went 2-for-2 with a homer and two RBIs in the win, while James homered and drove in three runs. They both have three homers on the year.
Payton Drefke went 3-for-3 and knocked in two runs. Addi Starr went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.
Jadeyn Stahr tossed a five-hitter to earn the win. She improved her mark to 2-1.
Earlier, the Jaguars cruised to a 12-4 win over Central Springs, the No. 2 team in Class 2A. It was the first loss of the season for the Panthers (6-1).
Centennial scored four runs in the first inning before Central Springs eventually rallied for three runs in the top of the fifth to close the gap to 6-4. However, the Jaguars then answered with a six-run outburst in the bottom of the frame.
Morris went 3-for-4 with a pair of solo homers. James went 3-for-3 with a home run, a double and three RBIs.
Lauren Gustofson went 2-for-3 and drove in three runs, while Mady Ott went 2-for-3 with a double and scored twice. Mariah Belzer added a double for Centennial, which pounded out 14 hits–six of them for extra bases.
Kennedy went 2-for-3 and knocked in a run. She is now batting .737, which ranks second in the entire state.
Gustofson (3-0) was the winning pitcher. She allowed four earned runs on seven hits over the first five innings while racking up six strikeouts.
The Jaguars will host a non-conference game on Monday against Southeast Warren (10-2), the No. 1 team in Class 1A.