Redhawk softball thriving with Sienknecht on the mound

North Tama starting pitcher Adelyn Sienknecht, a senior, winds up early in the game against Baxter on May 22 in Traer. Sienknecht took the win for the Redhawks, pitching all five innings and notching seven strikeouts while allowing just three hits, one run (earned), and one walk. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

TRAER – Under head coach Madonna Merchant, Redhawk softball continues to evolve and thrive this season with not only new uniforms but several new players including GMG transplant, starting pitcher Adelyn Sienknecht who led North Tama to their first win of the season back on May 22: a resounding rout, 11-1, over the Baxter Bolts in front of the hometown Traer crowd.

“I’m back for my second year as the head softball coach for the Redhawks,” Coach Merchant told the newspaper last week. “Kami Roth is back as my assistant. We have a good working relationship and mutual respect for each other’s knowledge of the game and what it takes to lead a program.”

North Tama’s softball program this year includes 14 girls, Merchant said. And despite a few early bumps, all 14 are ready to play ball and keep the momentum of last season – their winningest since 2017-18 – going strong.

“Preseason was a bit difficult to get practices in because of the girls participating in multiple sports, and now we are already into games,” Merchant said. “We do practice daily, even on game days to continue to improve fundamentally and to be able to work on what we learned we needed to in our last game. Softball actually is a short, intense season once games start, and we are currently in the process of establishing a better culture for the program so practicing and being committed is necessary.”

The program happened into a deep well of luck this past winter with the transfer of former GMG softball standout Adelyn Sienknecht who took up the mantle of Redhawk starting pitcher.

“GMG losing its softball program was definitely a win for us with gaining Adelyn and Alainey [Sienknecht] to our programs and the North Tama athletic family,” Merchant said. “Adelyn brings consistency on the mound, a good bat, and senior leadership to our team.”

Back on May 22 during the Redhawks’ home opener, Sienknecht pitched all five innings, notching seven strikeouts while allowing just three hits, one run (earned), and one walk.

While at bat, Addy Hochstetler led the way, going 3-for-3 – all doubles – with five RBIs and one run scored. On defense, she was behind the plate, putting out eight herself while assisting with another.

The team’s chemistry that evening was impressive and clearly helped make the win possible.

“So far, the team vibe has been fantastic. I’ve told the girls that the key to continuing to move this program forward is to continue to have that same chemistry once we try a lineup or two. That’s when being a good teammate becomes crucial — when you realize you might not be fitting into the picture how you see it, but still being a good teammate and ready to go when you are needed. The girls can all bring something to this team, and it is pretty awesome for them to be part of the culture change and overall improvement to the program.”

Win No. 2

The team followed up their first win with another less than a week later against Colo-NESCO on the road – taking down the Royals, 12-6 on Tuesday, May 28.

Sienknecht was again ace and took the win against the Royals, pitching all seven innings during which she struck out seven batters while allowing a dozen hits, six runs (all earned), and zero walks.

At bat, Briar Blake led the Redhawks, going 3-for-5 with two RBIs and one run scored, while Gabby Seda was 2-for-4 with two walks and four runs scored.

Harper Rausch was 3-for-4 with three runs scored; Sienknecht was 2-for-4 with a walk and two RBIs; Hochstetler was 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored; Gabby Velasco was 1-for-2 with a walk, one RBI, and one run scored; and Kinsley Even was 1-for-4 with one run scored.

After notching back-to-back wins, North Tama dropped two games at home, losing to BCLUW, 12-1 on May 29, and then to Collins-Maxwell, 9-0 on May 31.

But Merchant said her team isn’t discouraged by the losses – win or lose, the girls are committed to the 2023-24 season.

“It’s very difficult in the summer with all the options girls have these days, like working, hanging at the lake, or simply not wanting to have to compete and work for their playing time. It is what it is. I am lucky that the girls who are here are committed and working their tails off – and overall a great bunch of people to spend some summertime with.”