It took a bit longer to come together than head coach Ron Lehman and his Cascade team may have preferred, but in the fourth week of the softball season, the Cougar offense seems to have found its stride, helping the squad go 5-2 last week, improving to 9-9 after they had opened their first nine games at just 2-7.

The run began with a quick and efficient sweep of Bellevue in a road doubleheader, June 10. The Cougars took game one by mercy rule after scoring five in each of the first two innings and three in the third. Hailey Hannan got the win from the circle after striking out five Comet batters and allowing just two hits in three innings.

Senior Morgan Kremer dished out the first of her three home runs this week in game one, while classmate Whitney Clemens went 2-for-2 with a longball of her own. Batting in the leadoff slot, eighth grader Devin Simon was 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs.

That group continued to hammer the Comets in game two, which ended in a 13-2 victory for the Cougars in five innings. Kremer hit a two-run homer in a 2-for-4, three RBI effort in the nightcap, while Clemens (3-for-3, RBI), Simon (1-for-4, double, two RBIs) and senior Addy Weber (1-for-3, triple, two RBIs) all stayed hot from the box. Senior Lidia Boffeli struck out seven with five hits and one earned run to help keep Bellevue (0-16) winless.

Cascade had another field day at home versus Tipton (3-15) two days later, winning 15-3 as the Cougars tallied a season-best 14 RBIs on the night. Kremer kept her streak alive for another game, hitting her third homer in the same number of games, driving in a pair and scoring once on her own. Simon’s bat awoke in a similar fashion in a 3-for-5 outing that included a longball of her own, a trio of RBIs, four runs scored and a stolen base.

“We played well and everybody hit well in that game,” Lehman said of the Tipton game. “That was (Simon’s) first home-run of her career here, one of what I’m sure will be many as she goes through the program.”

Hannan struck out four and allowed just one run off nine hits to earn the win. Her pitching counterpart, Bofelli, did some damage from the batter’s box, knocking in a pair of runs on a double in a 2-for-4 night.

Tipton drove in a pair of its own during the fifth inning and added another in the seventh, but found themselves outmatched by a surging Cougar lineup that went on to put nine more on the board in the final two innings alone.

Riding high at five straight wins, Cascade was humbled in extras by Starmont (10-14) during the opening round of Saturday’s West Delaware Tournament. Cascade opened the game with a pair of runs in the first frame. The Stars scored one in the bottom of the second and third to tie it, and the Cougars stole back the lead with one in the sixth. Cascade hit two more through in the seventh, followed by a three-run inning out of Starmont. The game would be locked at 5-5 for two more innings before Starmont stole the game in the bottom of the ninth. Clemens (2-for-3, triple, two RBI) led the hitting efforts in that one.

The next game was a bounce back win over a Cedar Rapids Washington team (1-20) June 14 in the opening round of the West Delaware Tournament. With Hannan and Boffeli both putting in extra innings for the tournament, junior Samantha Recker stepped in for her second start of the year. She performed admirably, earning her second win after striking out six CR-W batters while allowing three hits and walking just one.

“They had a busy week. If the arms get a little tired, I have no problem putting in a third for a game,” Lehman said. “The two games (Recker) has pitched were admittedly against weaker teams, but there’s no question that she’s done her job when she went in there, and I plan on testing her again in a bigger situation down the line.”

Simon also continued to be the Cougar’s ace on offense, this time finishing 3-for-3 with four stolen bases and three runs scored. Hannan (2-for-3, RBI) and Kremer (2-for-4, RBI) also contributed to another strong Cascade attack as they took the 7-0 win.

Simon put together a similar effort in the next game against Wahlert (12-10). She finished 2-for-3 with two stolen bases and scored three of the Cougars 11 total runs in the contest. The middle school call-up helped Cascade upset the formidable Golden Eagle lineup, 11-8.

“Wahlert’s a good hitting team, and it’s a win that you’re happy about no matter how they’ve been playing to that point,” Lehman said. “(Hannan) hit her spots and had a good change-up. She pitched one of her better games of the year even though she gave up five runs on the final stat sheet.”

Hannan struck out one and allowed 10 hits, but pulled off the win in part because of her own two-RBI triple from the plate. Additional RBIs were provided by Weber, Kremer, senior Mae Felton and sophomore Taylor Menster.

The Cougars’ final game of the West Delaware Tournament ended in a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Edgewood-Colesburg (14-10).

“We stubbed our foot in the Ed-Co game, we really did,” Lehman said. “We had three runs on four hits and six errors and none of the runs were on those errors. It was one of the worst defensive games we’ve had all year, and we just couldn’t stop making the types of mistakes that bring on a loss like that.”

Ed-Co opened the game with a pair of first-inning scores before nabbing another in the fifth en route to holding that lead for the remainder of the game. Cascade tried to make the comeback with single runs in the second and sixth, but couldn’t get it done behind a hitting effort that was led by a Hannan RBI triple as well as a Menster RBI double.

With over half of the season behind them, Simon currently leads all Cougar hitters with 28 while posting 14 RBI and stealing 12 bases in 66 at-bats. It’s a promising start for the young infielder.

“I’ve been around the game for over 20 years now. To come up at that age, you need a special kind of ability,” Lehman said. “We saw her play before she joined the team here, we knew she was going to be a good one. She already is a good one,” he adds with a laugh.