No. 5-ranked Warriors keep Pioneers winless
SWEA CITY — It took Iowa Class 1A, No. 5-ranked North Union four innings until the proverbial offensive floodgates opened Tuesday night.
The hometown Warriors erupted for a dozen total hits to plate three runs in the bottom of the fourth, four more in the fifth and five in the sixth to exit Swea City’s diamond with a 12-2, 10-run rule, non-league softball victory over the winless Okoboji Pioneers.
“Ironically, the pitch that set the tone for our offensive breakout the second time through the batting order wasn’t even a hit,” said North Union head coach Art Ingalls. “After she (Okoboji starting pitcher Mia Meyer) retired eight of our first nine hitters, it was (leadoff batter) Hope Steinberger’s line-drive comebacker to end the third (inning) that got us going.
“She (Steinberger) figured her (Meyer) out, ripped it, Meyer gloved it, and then the rest of our hitters followed suit in the fourth to break the game open.”
After two unsuccessful bunt attempts, Katelyn Thackery smacked an offering into center field to trigger the Warriors’ three-run performance in the last of the fourth inning.
Thackery later wheeled to second base on Breanna Anderson’s single over the Pioneer shortstop’s head before designated player Kaitlyn Bierstedt scorched a two-hop grounder that the Okoboji shortstop could not handle, resulting in Anderson and Bierstedt scoring.
Brooklyn Prochniak, who went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, drilled the first of her two doubles into the left-center gap to plate Bierstedt for a 3-0 lead after four completed frames.
Makenzie Vos blooped a leadoff single to trigger Okoboji’s solo run in the top of the fifth to spoil North Union ace right-hander Kate Anderson’s shutout bid. Vos advanced to second base on Camry Jones’ sacrifice bunt, reached third on a right-side groundout and scored on a wild pitch.
Thackery set the table again for the North Union offense in the home half of the fifth by legging out a bunt hit before Kate Anderson’s towering fly ball landed in no outfielder’s land in the left-center gap. Rory McClellan then drew a walk from Pioneers’ reliever Shania Christopherson to load the bases.
Bierstedt, who went 2-for-4 with a game-best four RBIs, drilled a three-run double into left-center before trading places with Prochniak on her ensuing RBI double for a 7-1 margin.
Okoboji scratched out a solo run in the top of the sixth via a double steal by Christopherson and Vos, but North Union would answer and then some in the home half.
Shawna Person blooped a leadoff single before stopping at second base on Hope Steinberger’s single to deep left. Thackery then legged out another bunt to jam the bases again.
Kate Anderson nailed a two-run single into left, Breanna Anderson lofted a sacrifice fly and Bierstedt singled home Thackery with her third run of the contest. Bierstedt then scored the game-ending run when Prochniak’s hard grounder to third base was misplayed.
Kate Anderson allowed two runs on five hits, struck out eight and walked three in six innings pitched to earn the complete-game victory for the Warriors.
Meyer absorbed the loss for Okoboji, allowing three runs — all unearned — on three hits in four innings of work. Meyer struck out seven and issued only one walk.
Madeline Stover went 2-for-2 with a walk to top the Pioneers.
North Union (11-3) travels to Eagle Grove, Iowa, tonight for a 6 p.m. Top of Iowa Conference contest.
OK 000 011 — 2 5 3
NU 000 345 — 12 12 0
Game-ending run scored with two out in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Mia Meyer (LP), Shania Christopherson (5) and Madeline Stover. Kate Anderson (WP) and Rory McClellan.
LOB–North Union 5; Okoboji 5. 2B–Brooklyn Prochniak (NU) 2, Kaitlyn Bierstedt (NU). SF–Breanna Anderson (NU). SAC–Camry Jones (OK).