SWEA CITY - The Iowa Class 2A, No. 2-ranked North Union Warriors swept both ends of Monday's Corn Belt Conference softball doubleheader against the Class 1A, No. 11-ranked West Bend-Mallard Wolverines, but it wasn't easy.
The hard-hitting Warriors utilized the long ball during the fourth inning in Game 1 to erase a 2-0 deficit before playing "small ball" in the nightcap's sixth inning to overcome McKenzie Grimm's go-ahead grand slam in the fifth frame.
Collete Haag's game-tying two-run double and Dena Looft's two-run homer engineered North Union's 4-2 opening victory before the Boland siblings - Autumn and Cheyanne - delivered clutch RBI singles in Game 2's late stages to pace a 7-5 comeback win in Swea City.
REACHING?OUT — North Union runner Autumn Boland reaches for first base as West Bend-Mallard first baseman Sarah Mader applies the tag during Game 1 of a Corn Belt Conference softball doubleheader on Monday night in Swea City. Boland beat the throw, but was called out. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)
"West Bend (-Mallard) may have outplayed us at times in both games tonight, but we out-executed them in key situations when we had our chances," said Warrior mentor Art Ingalls, whose lineup improved to 17-1 overall.
Trailing 2-0 on the heels of three fourth-inning singles - including Grimm's RBI hit - and Courtney Bargman's RBI fielder's choice, No. 2 batter Autumn Boland served as North Union's offensive catalyst during the home half of the fourth.
Autumn Boland, who went 2-for-3 in the opener, led off with a sinking liner to center before Cheyanne Boland flexed her muscle and smacked a double off the center-field fence to put the tying runs in scoring position.
Haag, who went 2-for-3 in Game 1, then drilled a two-run double into the left-center gap to knot the score at 2-all. Art Ingalls then opted to pinch-run Anna Ingalls for Haag, but the younger Ingalls only needed to trot as Looft walloped a two-run round-tripper to deep left for a 4-2 edge.
Ace right-hander Allie Ingalls then slammed the door on the upset-minded Wolverines via a 1-2-3 top of the fifth before Warrior catcher Cheyanne Boland displayed her defensive prowess. Boland picked off Sarah Mader, who had singled to open the sixth, to avert the visitors' late comeback bid.
Allie Ingalls then recorded two of her game-best nine strikeouts in retiring WBM in order during the seventh to seal her seven-hit complete-game victory.
Ingalls then doubled her wins inside the pitching circle by firing two shutout innings of one-hit relief as North Union rallied with three runs in the last of the sixth to erase a 5-4 deficit.
Allie Ingalls' two-run single highlighted the Warriors' three-run second at-bat, and eventual 4-1 lead through four full frames.
Liesel Schwartzkopf, however, reached on an error to open WBM's fifth at-bat before North Union starting pitcher Peyton Oleson issued a walk to Harrison Schmidt. Rachel Wirtz singled to load the bases for Grimm, and the No. 6 batter hammered a grand slam to inch the Wolverines ahead, 5-4.
Allie Ingalls then quieted the WBM bats during the sixth and seventh, while teammate Jasmine Clausen set the table for the Warriors' sixth-inning comeback.
Clausen legged out an infield hit with one out before swiping second base with two outs. Allie Ingalls drew a walk before Autumn Boland lined an RBI single to left to plate Clausen with the tying run.
Allie Ingalls, who had reached third on the throw to the plate on the previous play, alertly scampered home with the go-ahead run following a wild pitch. Cheyanne Boland then delivered an insurance run with an RBI single to center, plating Autumn Boland.
Allie Ingalls struck out three and did not issue a walk in two innings of relief to notch the Game 2 victory.
Oleson allowed five runs - four earned - on nine hits, struck out five and walked two in five-plus innings for the Warriors to receive no decision.
Ingalls, Haag and Looft each collected two hits for North Union in Game 2, while Kayla Banwart went 3-for-3 in the nightcap for WBM.
North Union (17-1) travels to Manly, Iowa, on Thursday to face Central Springs. West Bend-Mallard (11-3) plays host to Bishop Garrigan tonight.
WBM 000 200 0 - 2 7 1
NU 000 400 x - 4 6 0
McKenzie Grimm (LP) and Liesel Schwartzkopf. Allie Ingalls (WP) and Cheyanne Boland.
LOB-No. Union 3; WBM 5. 2B-C. Boland (NU), Collete Haag (NU). HR-Dena Looft (NU). SAC-Looft (NU).
WBM 010 040 0 - 5 10 0
NU 031 003 x - 7 10 1
Courtney Bargman (LP) and Liesel Schwartzkopf. Peyton Oleson, Allie Ingalls (6, WP) and Cheyanne Boland.
LOB-No. Union 7; WBM 10. 2B-Ingalls (NU). HR-McKenzie Grimm (WBM).