No. Union squeezes by ‘Boji

SWEA CITY – Iowa Class 2A, No. 4-ranked North Union literally squeezed its way past Okoboji on Friday night and into the Region 2 softball championship game.

Shaylee Hanning’s mishandled suicide-squeeze bunt plated both the tying and game-winning runs with no outs in the bottom of the seventh inning to propel the hometown Warriors to a 3-2 cardiac comeback victory over the upset-minded Pioneers in Swea City.

North Union (31-4) advances to play host to Panorama (16-7) for the regional crown and a Class 2A state bid at 7 p.m. Monday night back in Swea City. Panorama upended No. 11-ranked IKM Manning, 8-4, in Friday night’s semifinals.

Okoboji ended its season with a 15-18 record.

“That was an awful bunt, but I knew I had to make contact and put it in play since it was a (suicide) squeeze play,” said Hanning, who also drove in Maddie Rolling with North Union’s first run of the playoff clash with a two-out RBI infield hit during the home half of the fifth frame.

“I told Maddie and Bre (Anderson) that we were going for the win by bunting in that situation,” Warriors head coach Art Ingalls said in reference to his lineup’s seventh-inning heroics. “Maddie made a nice head-first slide to beat the throw to the plate, and Bre never slowed down and was going home all the way, and just slid under the tag.”

Maddie Rolling, who had doubled off the center-field fence with one out in the fifth and scored on Hanning’s hit, led off the Warriors’ last at-bat by getting hit by a pitch and garnered second base on a delayed steal.

Bre Anderson then drew a walk before both she and Rolling advanced on a wild pitch, and later crossed the plate on Hanning’s bunt.

“We had to do a rewind, and make a late comeback like we did against West Lyon in last year’s playoffs,” Art Ingalls said with a wry smile. “We were down 1-0 to them before finally rallying to score two runs last summer.

“We’ve got to make it interesting for the fans and the media alike.”

North Union junior ace right-hander Anna Ingalls recorded a game-best 14 strikeouts en route to firing a four-hit complete game to earn the victory and outduel her worthy pitching adversary.

Ironically, Okoboji eighth-grade pitching phenom Abbie Klatt retired the first 13 North Union batters in a row en route to a perfect game until Maddie Rolling broke up the no-hitter via a double off the 210-foot sign in center in the fifth.

In fact, Klatt, who entered the game with an incredible 271 strikeouts in 158 innings pitched, struck out eight of the first nine Warriors en route to 11 strikeouts on the night. The Pioneers’ ace right-hander allowed three runs – only one earned – on just two hits in six-plus innings to take the tough loss.

Cory Hoffman went 2-for-3 and scored Okoboji’s initial run in the top of the first inning. Hoffman was hit by a pitch, stole second and circled the bases on Brooklyn Barnett’s RBI double to right-center.

Kailye Hromatko reached on a two-out error and scored the Pioneers’ second run on an ensuing outfield error to stake Klatt to a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth.

Anna Ingalls allowed two runs – only one earned, issued three walks and hit one batter in seven innings of work to notch the victory.

Emily Wintz collected Okoboji’s other hit.

OK 100 100 0 – 2 4 2

NU 000 010 2 – 3 2 2

Winning run scored with no outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Abbie Klatt (LP) and Annie Klatt. Anna Ingalls (WP) and Rory McClellan.

LOB-North Union 4, Okoboji 6. 2B-Maddie Rolling (NU), Brooklyn Barnett (Okoboji). SAC-Shaylee Hanning (NU).