Panthers gain momentum after shutout
Like pizza and the weather, the Norfolk High School baseball team is best when it’s warm.
The Panthers defeated South Sioux City 6-0 on Tuesday at Veterans Memorial Park as temperatures were in the 60s and the forecasted rain held off.
The win was Norfolk’s third in a row and sixth in the past nine games.
About the time when spring arrived and fans were able to shed most of their blankets, so have Norfolk’s fielders been able to shed most of their errors. Against the Cardinals on Tuesday, Norfolk didn’t have any miscues.
“We’ve been playing really good defense now for a couple of weeks,” said Norfolk coach Sean Wetterberg. “We came out tonight and got the job done. That’s really what matters.”
Like Tuesday night’s win against Fremont Bergan, Norfolk jumped out to an early lead. That enabled the pitchers to throw strikes and let the other team put the ball in play. The rest was up to the fielders.
Jaden Driscoll started and pitched the first four innings for Norfolk, picking up the win. He allowed three hits, walked one and struck out two. No Cardinal runner got past second base while he pitched.
“It was kind of Johnny Whole Staff on the mound tonight,” Wetterberg said, noting he was pleased with the efforts of Driscoll, Gavin Schultz and Brandon Ellenwood. “Jaden started off and was pumping strikes and going right after them.”
Schultz, who had missed a couple of weeks because of a concussion, struck out four while working out of trouble because of walks. Similarly, Ellenwood also walked a couple of batters during the final inning he pitched.
“Gavin struggled with location a little bit, but the big thing was he adjusted, and was able to get out of those two innings without giving up any runs,” Wetterberg said. “We were happy to get him out there again before districts.”
Offensively, Norfolk only managed six hits, with four of them coming in the first inning. Norfolk took advantage of six Cardinal errors.
South Sioux City (0-12) 000 000 0 – 0 3 6
Norfolk (7-15) 400 020 x — 6 6 0
WP: Jaden Driscoll, LP: Daxton Grace. There were no extra base hits.
* Gavin Schultz, who struck out four, received a game baseball after he struck out a batter in the sixth inning. This year’s team set a single season team record for strikeouts. The previous record of 151 stood for 13 years. “That was an excellent accomplishment. Our pitchers put in a lot of work in the offseason and you could definitely tell because we have pitched well this spring. I can’t say enough about all the guys who have taken the mound for us,” Wetterberg said.
* In regard to upcoming district play, Wetterberg said, “We’re excited. It doesn’t really matter who we are going to play. We are feeling good about ourselves and we think we will match up well with whoever we are playing.”
* Seven of the eight seniors got at bats and played their final home game on Tuesday. There also are four juniors and two sophomores on this year’s varsity roster.
* The shutout was the Panthers’ first of the season. Norfolk finished the regular season 5-9 at home and 3-6 on the road.
* With the Norfolk junior varsity’s win, the Junior Panthers finished 8-8-1.