Lady E-Hawks Win Regional Tourney Opener
Emmetsburg’s Lady E-Hawks survived a scare from South O’Brien Wednesday night in the quarterfinal round of Class 2A Regional Softball play to take a 9-5 win from the Wolverines. The win improves Emmetsburg to 17-10 on the season as they entered the Regional Semifinal game Friday night against Sioux Central.
Emmetsburg would bat first in the contest, and made the most of the opportunity by getting a leadoff single from Ashley Overberg. Alexa Naig walked and after a sacrifice by Michaela Rehm, Allison Freeman sacrificed to score Overberg’s run, but Naig was left waiting when Kate Jackson grounded out. The Lady E-Hawks would retire South O’Brien in order in the bottom of the first to preserve the 1-0 lead.
In the top of the second, Ashton Connelly popped out, but Hali Noll singled. Natalie Kliegl came in to run for Noll and moved to second off Jenna Chapman’s walk. After a double steal, Kliegl would score off a sacrifice bunt by Sarah Simington, but Chapman was left waiting at third when Ashley Overberg lined out to end the at-bat.
South O’Brien would erupt in the bottom of the second, scoring four runs off four singles, a fielders’ choice and an error to take a 4-2 lead before Emmetsburg’s defense could make the stop.
Now trailing 2-4 in the top of the third, the Lady E-Hawks answered back after Alexa Naig grounded out to open the inning. Michaela Rehm singled and Allison Freeman walked before Kate Jackson singled to load the bases. A throwing error would allow Rehm to scamper home before Ashton Connelly hit a sacrifice ground out that allowed Freeman to come home and tie the score, but Jackson would be left waiting at third when the at-bat ended.
The Wolverines would re-take the lead in the bottom of the third off a single and double for a 5-4 score before stranding a runner after three straight outs.
But Emmetsburg wouldn’t give up. Jenna Chapman walked to lead off and worked around the bases off a pair of passed balls before Sarah Simington struck out. Ashley Overberg flew out, but Chapman tagged up and came home off the sac fly to tie the game back up before Alexa Naig grounded out.
South O’Brien would get two singles in the bottom of the fourth before Emmetsburg Coach Travis Birkey made a pitching change, bringing Ashton Connelly to the circle from first base to switch places with starting pitcher Hali Noll. The Lady E-Hawk defense would strand a South O’Brien runner to end the inning with the score knotted at 5-5.
In the top of the fifth, Michaela Rehm grounded out to start the inning, but Allison Freeman singled. Kate Jackson reached on a fielders’ choice that put Freeman out at second for two outs. But an error on a pickoff attempt allowed Jackson to move to second before Ashton Connelly was walked and Natalie Kliegl came in to run. Hali Noll would draw a walk to load the sacks before Jenna Chapman punched a double to the right field fence. The hit allowed Jackson and Kliegl to score and Noll moved to third before coming home on the throw to make the score 8-5.
South O’Brien made a pitching change and Chapman went to third on a throw and then scored her run on a passed ball to make the score 9-5 before the inning ended on a ground out.
South O’Brien would be retired in order in their half of the inning but Emmetsburg would suffer the same fate in the top of the sixth. South O’Brien would go down one out in the bottom of the sixth, and then got a single and put a runner on base off an error to put runners at second and third, but Connelly induced two straight strikeouts to end the threat.
Emmetsburg would go down in order in the top of the seventh and settled in to play defense one last time. A ground out, strike out and a ground out would end the game in the 9-5 win for the Lady E-Hawks.
Hali Noll would pitch three and a third innings, giving up five runs, four earned, off eight hits with two strikeouts. Ashton Connelly would pitch three and two-thirds innings, giving up one hit with three strikeouts.
Emmetsburg got a double from Jenna Chapman, while Ashley Overberg had two hits and Michaela Rehm, Allison Freeman, Kate Jackson and Hali Noll all added hits to the effort.