Lady E’Hawks Win Semi-Final Thriller
FORT?DODGE – There were plenty of anxious moments Thursday evening, but patience and calm prevailed as Emmetsburg captured a 3-2 win over Bondurant-Farrar. The victory in the Class 2A Semi-Final game propelled Emmetsburg into the 2A Championship game the following evening against BCL-UW.
“Man, what a great softball game,”?exclaimed Emmetsburg Head Coach Travis Birkey following the thrilling win. “That was just an excellent game for the fans. I’m so proud of the girls for not giving up and playing their game.”
For the Lady E’Hawks, who improved to 32-5 win the win, the game’s final inning couldn’t have been scripted better if you’d tried to. Emmetsburg on defense, leading by a run, but Bondurant-Farrar had the tying run on third and the winning run at first, with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.
After their opening round win over Riverside on Monday, the Lady E’Hawks had two days off and away from the state tournament. Coming back to the Rogers Sports Complex on Thursday, Emmetsburg’s game was delayed due to another game going 11 innings on Diamond Two.
Those small things, combined with the expected nerves of playing in a state tournament game, didn’t do Emmetsburg any favors, and neither did the Blue Jays of Bondurant-Farrar.
When the game finally started, Emmetsburg went down in order in the top of hte seventh. Bondurant-Farrrar went down two outs and then got a base hit and drew a walk before a fly ball to Kendall Corley in right field ended the inning.
It was more of the same in the top of the second for Emmetsburg, but Maddison Woodruff retired the Blue Jays in order on strikeouts in the bottom of the second to return the favor.
The Lady E’Hawks found some life in the top of the third, as Caitlin Wise walloped a double to the left-center field fence with one out, but a pair of strikeouts would leave the Lady E’Hawk waiting at second when the opportunity ended. Emmetsburg’s defense held firm in the bottom of the frame, setting the Blue Jays down in order again.
Things would begin to happen in the top of the fourth, as Jenny Hoch led off by being walked and a second walk put Alex Lock on base. With Alyson Berven running for Lock, a sacrifice by Kendall Corley put the two runners in scoring position.
Shortstop Nichole Hasbrouck stepped to the plate and came up with a well-hit single up the middle that brought both Hoch and Berven over the plate. With just one out, Morgan Vlasman rapped out a base hit that sent Hasbrouck to third, and Vlasman would steal second.
However, the outburst ended there as Wise was struck out and Hillary Pico was put out to end the opportunity.
Trailing 2-0, Bondurant-Farrar would get a walk with one out, but a fielders’ choice took the lead runner out at second base. A single would follow, but a fly ball catch by second baseman Tiffany Wollum ended the inning, stranding two Blue Jays and leaving Emmetsburg up 2-0 to start the fifth inning.
The inning started out with a strikeout of Woodruff and a put out of Hoch, but Alex Lock took the second pitch from B-F’s Dacia Miller and lifted it high over the center field fence for a solo home run shot. As Lock trotted around the diamond celebrating the hit, her teammates gathered at home plate to congratulate her on the hit. The at-bat would end when Corley struck out, but the Lady E’Hawks now held a 3-0 lead.
Bondurant-Farrar lef off the bottom of the fifth with a walk, but on the next at-bat, a line shot to Hasbrouck at second was quickly thrown to Morgan Vlasman at first, catching the runner off first for the double play. The Blue Jays would get a walk, but left their runner waiting when Hoch fielded an infield hit and threw to Vlasman for the third out.
Emmetsburg went down two outs to start the sixth, but designated hitter Frankie Schmidt got on base off an error at short, only to be left waiting when Wise struck out.
Bondurant-Farrar came to life in the bottom of the sixth, as they led off with four consecutive singles that would bring two runs over the plate. But with runners waiting at second and third, Woodruff tallied two strikeouts and an infield fly catch by Jenny Hoch ended the threat for the time being.
To lead off the seventh inning, Birkey sent Janna Hoch to the plate to pinch-hit for Pico as the leadoff batter. The tactic worked, as Hoch rapped out a base hit, only to be picked off on a throw by B-F catcher Hannah Baker. Maddison Woodruff struck out and Jenny Hoch hit a fly ball to center for the third out.
Now it was time for the defense to dig in.
Feeding off their outburst in the bottom of the sixth, Bondurant-Farrar led off with a single by Trisha Rooney, who moved to second off a sacrifice bunt. Woodruff would strike out her opposite, Dacia Miller, for the second out, but issued a walk to catcher Hannah Baker. With two out, Emmetsburg catcher Alex Lock called time to confer with her battery-mate, Woodruff, on what to try for the third out.
“We really didn’t know what to try,”?Woodruff said of the conference. “We just figured we’d led the defense do what we could do.”
Bobbi Jo Burrows, the second baseman, stepped to the plate and hit a one-hopper at Hasbrouck at second. Hasbrouck fielded the ball cleanly, fired towards Vlasman at first, who jumped into the air for the catch and dropped one foot to the bag just in time to beat a sliding Burrows to get the third out. Emmetsburg’s players began their celebration.
Maddison Woodruff earned the satisfying win, allowing two runs off seven hits in the contest, while allowing four walks and striking out 11 batters. Woodruff faced 32 batters in her seven innings of work.
For the Lady E’Hawks, Alex Lock came up with the solo home run shot, while Caitlin Wise belted a double Nichole Hasbrouck, Morgan Vlasman, Frankie Schmidt and Janna Hoch all added bases hits to the winning effort.
“This was such a good win,” Birkey noted. “We were a little shaky to start, but the girls really kept their composure and made the plays they needed to make down the road.”
Birkey paused for a moment. “I think the girls are really focused, because we talked last night at practice about that. I told them that this was the time to put their personal goals aside, because now it was truly the time for the team effort. There’s no I in team, and they all know that and understand it very well. Right now, these girls are ready to play for a state championship and I couldn’t be any prouder of them.”