“There is no elite;
“Just take your place in the driver’s seat.
“Driver’s seat, ooh-ooh.
“Driver’s seat, yeah.”
Atlantic fans may never hear the classic hit “Driver’s Seat” on a pre-game music mix for the Trojan softball team.
They may want to dig back to 1979 — some 40 years ago — for the old Sniff ‘n the Tears song and start playing it.
It’s where the Trojans are at right now as far as the Hawkeye Ten Conference race is concerned.
In Tuesday night’s rematch of their tense, down-to-the-last-out May 31 meeting against Denison-Schleswig, there was never any doubt. The Trojans, the No. 7 team in Iowa Class 3A, took control early, never let up on the gas and steered their way to a surprisingly easy 10-0 victory over the Class 3A No. 6 Monarchs at Atlantic.
So go ahead and ask coach Terry Hinzmann: “Coach, does it put your team in the driver’s seat?”
“I think it does now,” said coach Hinzmann. “Harlan’s only got one loss so we’re going to have to be tough against them. I wouldn’t count Denison out and Creston is a tough team. We watched them (the Panthers) at their tournament and Mike McCabe always has a tough team and has those kids ready to play.
“And don’t count out any of those teams towards the bottom,” he continued, referring to Council Bluffs St. Albert, Clarinda and Red Oak. “All those are teams we beat earlier but you never know. We’ve got to be ready with a doubleheader in Clarinda.”
Unlike their May 31 meeting, in which they had to rally in the sixth inning from a 7-3 deficit to tie the score, then score two more in the seventh to come away with the 9-7 win, this one was all Trojans.
Building on a 2-0 first inning lead, a two-out error at shortstop and a wild pitch sent two more runners home to make it 4-0. Baylee Newell’s two-run RBI in the third, and a triple off the bat of Olivia Engler to score Kennedy Goergen made it 7-0.
“I think we just came in with good energy,” said Newell, who admitted there was still pressure to keep pounding away. “I think it kept us motivated, because last time they got a lot of runs in big innings, so we knew we could come back with anything.”
Newell’s final run off a Caroline Pellett RBI single ended the game early.
Up and down the lineup, the Trojans were dominant. They only had seven hits, but took advantage of walks and errors by the Monarchs to get the big win.
“I think we were definitely on edge the first time, but we didn’t have the pressure on us, it was on them and they were ranked higher,” said Pellett. “We took care of business and did what we had to do.”
Atlantic (15-1, 7-0 Hawkeye Ten Conference) now has first place to itself. Harlan has two more games under its belt and is 8-1 in the Hawkeye Ten, while Glenwood is 5-1 in league games.
While some easier games, at least on paper, lie ahead, destiny — and staying in the driver’s seat — is all in the Trojans’ hands.
“The move going forward is that we control our own destiny from here on out until the end of the conference,” said Hinzmann. “We’ve got some tough games from here the rest of the schedule. For us, it’s we can take care of business on our own.”