by Dan Voigt
ALTA - It's often said that in many sports, offense wins games but defense wins championships.
For Emmetsburg's Lady E-Hawks, a strong defensive effort and a quick offensive strike on Wednesday night were the combination for an exciting 1-0 win against Alta-Aurelia in Quarterfinal Regional post season tournament play.
CELEBRATION! - Emmetsburg’s Lady E-Hawks begin their celebration of a hard-fought 1-0 win over Alta-Aurelia Wednesday night in Class 2A Regional Quarter-final tournament play at Alta. The win improved Emmetsburg to a record of 19-11
-- Dan Voigt photo
The win gave Emmetsburg revenge for a 10-0 loss earlier in the season to the Warriors and advanced the Lady E-Hawks to Friday's Regional semi-final game.
Emmetsburg would score first in the top of the first inning after Alexa Naig struck out to open the game. Sarah Simington drew a walk, and worked her way around the bases as Tegan Olson struck out, but a huge RBI?single from Michaela Rehm brought Simington across the plate for a 1-0 lead, but Rehm and Ashton Connelly, who would also single, were left waiting when the at-bat ended.
Alta-Aurelia would get two singles and a fielders' choice, but had the lead runner thrown out at third and left two waiting to end the first frame.
Emmetsburg would get a single from Ashley Overberg in the second, but she was left looking for a way home. The Warriors would suffer a similar fate after a walk to end the second inning.
In the top of the third, Emmetsburg went down two outs, but Michaela Rehm belted a single, only to be left waiting at first. But good defense by the Lady E-Hawks retired the Warriors in order to end the inning.
An error on Bailee Garrelts at-bat opened the fourth, but courtesy runner Natalie Kliegl was put out when Kate Jackson flew out to short and couldn't get back to first in time. A strikeout would end Emmetsburg's opportunity as the Warriors came up to bat in the bottom of the fourth. Going down two outs, Alta-Aurelia got a runner on base off an error, but a dropped third strike put a second runner on base. Emmetsburg pitcher Ashton Connelly ended the threat by inducing a strikeout as the intensity of the game rose another notch.
Still clinging to the 1-0 lead in the fifth, Emmetsburg would got down two outs, but Sarah Simington drew a walk, only to be left stranded when the at-bat ended again.
The Warriors would get a runner on base off Emmetsburg's fourth error of the game, but left the runner stranded with two consecutive fly ball outs.
The defensive battle continued, as Emmetsburg put Ashton Connelly on base off an error with one out, but left courtesy runner Bailey Naig waiting for a way home. Alta-Aurelia would get a single with one out, but again, good defensive plays, including a foul fly ball catch by Tegan Olson at third base for Emmetsburg would stop the Warriors to set up the decisive seventh inning.
In the top of the seventh, Emmetsburg saw Hali Noll fly out to left to lead off, but Ashley Overberg rapped a single to center field to get on base. Alexa Naig struck out, and an infield fly to short ended the at-bat.
Facing a do-or-die situation, Emmetsburg's defense clamped down in the bottom of the seventh, A bunt attempt was fielded by Ashton Connelly, who carefully flipped the ball to first baseman Jenna Chapman for the first out and a fly ball to Alexa Naig in left field left Alta-Aurelia with one out to go in their season. Connelly would induce the batter into a short grounder. Connelly bobbled the ball for a moment, but quickly flipped the ball to Chapman at first in the nick of time for the final out and the Lady E-Hawks broke into celebration with the 1-0 win.
Ashton Connelly would go seven full innings, giving up three hits while allowing one walk and striking out five batters in the process.
For the Lady E-Hawks, Michaela Rehm held the big bat, rapping out two singles, but one for an RBI to score the game-winning run. Ashley Overberg would also come up with a pair of base hits and Ashton Connelly would tally a base hit as well.
The win improved Emmetsburg to 19-11 overall record on the season.