Sparta softball begins with storybook ending

Sparta’s Madisynn Bolen escapes a tag at home as Aquinas catcher Alyssa Brickson bobbles the ball. Bolen scored on an inside the park home run in the first inning of Tuesday’s season opener. Payton Jones would follow with her own inside the park score in the very next at bat. Herald photo by Nate Beier.

Sparta softball’s return to action on the diamond ended in a picture-perfect way - a walk off single to upset perennial postseason and Mississippi Valley Conference power, Aquinas.

The storybook ending, however, is hopefully just the beginning for better things for the Spartans.

“Quite frankly, I think it sets the tone for the season,” said Sparta second year head coach Spike Lindley following Tuesday’s game.

“Never did I doubt our team’s ability to come back. I really don’t think confidence will be an issue now.”

Lindley said that besting a team like Aquinas is a good measuring stick for a young and inexperienced group like he has at Sparta. Even if the team hadn’t earned the win, Lindley is convinced he saw enough positives from his team to know they’re making improvements from the past few years and are trending in the right direction.

Sparta started the night off with two big plays in the first inning. Madisynn Bolen drove a ball into centerfield for an extra base hit. Bolen, however, ran the bases aggressively and made it to third and then gambled on an overthrown ball at third and sprinted home. The ball was bobbled by catcher Alyssa Brickson and Bolen completed her inside the park home run.

Payton Jones matched the feat after belting a ball into the outfield and managed to touch all the bases to put Sparta up 2-0.

Aquinas took the lead with a four-run third inning.

Sparta added five runs in the third to get the lead back.

Aquinas tacked one on in the fourth and two more in the sixth to take an 8-7 lead.

The Spartans dug deep in the seventh inning.

Jones grounded out. Ariana Dixon singled. Gibson struck out. Kayla Fabry then singled and stole second just after. Maddie Sprain went down in the count, 1-2, then singled to drive in both Dixon and Fabry to upend the Blugolds and to give coach Lindley his first win at the helm of the Sparta softball program.

Bolen was 2-4 in the win. Emma Blackdeer was 2-3. Sparta finished with 9 hits total.

Bolen picked up the win from the circle allowing 10 hits and striking out one.

Sparta returns to action Thursday, April 29 when they travel to La Crosse Logan. Logan opened the season with a 10-1 loss to Tomah after surrendering seven runs in the second inning to the visiting Timberwolves.

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