The shortest distance between home plate and the outfield fence is a line drive.

Tomah coach Dan Wall said his team got that message Friday.

The Timberwolves spayed line drives all over the place Friday in a 12-0 Mississippi Valley Conference softball victory over Sparta at Allan Gerke and Sons Field.

The victory came one day after Tomah dropped a 6-4 decision to Holmen in an MVC contest. The split left the Timberwolves with a 9-12 record.

Wall enjoyed watching the Timberwolves launch straight lines to the outfield.

“If you look at our doubles lately, they are line drives, not towering fly balls to the edge of the fence,” Wall said. “The girls have done a good job of refocusing on hitting the ball hard, on the line, versus trying to hit it over the fence.”

Wall said his team is starting to understand that “line drives turn into home runs; fly balls turn into outs. If a line drive wants to go over the fence, it will go over.”

Tomah’s most proficient line-drive hitter lately has been Journey Smith. She continued her torrid hitting streak with two doubles and four RBIs against Sparta.

Smith said she was in a slump at the beginning of the year, but she said a double she hit in a recent game ignited her confidence.

“I wasn’t afraid to mess up, and that’s the biggest thing,” she said. “I wasn’t trying to hit home runs.”

Wall responded by moving Smith from ninth to second in the batting order.

“You try to put your hotter players together, and Journey has definitely had a hot bat for us,” Wall said.

Smith wasn’t the only power source against Sparta. Shay Lyden belted a triple and drove in two runs, and Abby Sherwood blasted a triple.

Tomah pitcher Emma Plueger tossed a one-hitter while striking out seven and walking one. Sparta’s only hit was Emma Blackdeer’s triple down the rightfield line to lead off the third inning, but the Timberwolves kept her stranded.

The game ended after 4 ½ innings via the 10-run rule.

Wall said his team played well at Holmen but couldn’t hold on to a late lead. Holmen freshman Ellie Kline tied the game with a home run to lead off the sixth, and the blast triggered the Vikings’ winning rally.

“It was a good game; we were proud of them,” Wall said. “We just didn’t take advantage of all the opportunities that were given to us.”

Josie Mathison led the Tomah offense with two doubles, while Alyssa Whaley and Plueger had two hits each.

The Timberwolves close out the regular season by hosting MVC opponent Onalaska Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Gerke Field.

The seeding meeting is Wednesday for the WIAA Division 1 Verona Sectional. Regional semifinals begin Tuesday, May 21.

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Tomah Journal editor Steve Rundio can be reached at steve.rundio@lee.net.

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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