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North Union earns state bid

SWEA CITY – Back-to-back trips to the Harlan Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Ace right-hander Anna Ingalls fired a five-hit complete-game shutout, while Sarah Rolling hammered her 14th home run of the summer to power the No. 4-ranked North Union Warriors to a 9-0 rout of the Panorama Panthers for the Region 2 softball championship on Monday night in Swea City.

North Union (32-4) earned its second consecutive Iowa Class 2A state tournament appearance, and the program’s fourth state bid since 2010.

The Warriors open the state quarterfinals against No. 7-ranked Iowa City Regina (26-17) at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 19, at Mittera Field in Fort Dodge. Regina captured the Region 5 crown by edging No. 9-ranked Pella Christian, 2-1.

Panorama ended the season with a 16-8 record.

North Union utilized ‘small-ball’ strategy to scratch out four third-inning runs before flipping the switch to ‘long-ball’ mode during the top of the sixth.

“We had to face the fact that we had been struggling at the plate the last couple of games, and had to try to get something going offensively,” Warriors head coach Art Ingalls said in reference to his lineup’s staggering five sacrifice bunts and pair of bunt hits on the night. “We had to figure out how to get our wheels rolling, and then Sarah ended her home run drought in the sixth.”

Emma Engelby reached on the third of Panorama’s six errors to lead off North Union’s third at-bat before Anna Ingalls was safe when her sacrifice bunt was thrown away at first base.

Kyarsten Mullen, who went 2-for-4, legged out a bunt hit to load the bases for the green-and-white before Engelby crossed the plate on Panther right-hander Meredith Olson’s wild pitch.

Sarah Rolling notched the first of her three RBIs on the regional finale by squeezing home Ingalls before Kate Anderson legged out another bunt hit, with Mullen scooting home on a throwing error. Kate Anderson later crossed the plate on Bre Anderson’s RBI single to center for a 4-0 lead.

Shaylee Hanning, who went 2-for-4, served as the Warriors’ catalyst during the sixth by lining a leadoff single to right. Hanning later motored all the way to third when Aly Bierstedt’s sacrifice bunt was mishandled.

Engelby and Ingalls then followed with back-to-back RBI groundouts to plate Hanning and Bierstedt for a 6-0 margin.

Mullen then singled to left before Sarah Rolling launched a towering two-run shot over the fence in left-center to double the Warriors’ gap to 8-0.

Maddie Rolling then legged out an infield hit in the seventh, moved to second on Bre Anderson’s bunt and circled the bases on Hanning’s RBI single to right.

While North Union stranded only five runners on base, Warriors’ junior ace hurler Anna Ingalls left a baker’s dozen of Panthers on the base paths.

“We made the plays on defense when we had to, and Anna struck out their batters when she had to,” Art Ingalls said in reference to Panaroma’s 13 stranded runners.

Anna Ingalls recorded two of her eight strikeouts to thwart the Panthers’ one-out bases-loaded threat in the second inning before Warriors’ shortstop Kate Anderson recorded the final out with Panorama runners on first and second in the third.

North Union second baseman Maddie Rolling gloved a hard-hit grounder to turn away Panorama empty-handed despite a bases-loaded scenario in the fifth.

Hannah Woodworth went 3-for-4 to top the Panthers, while Meredith Olson and Kennedy Anderson supplied one hit apiece.

Meredith Olson allowed nine runs – only four earned – on eight hits, struck out three, walked one and hit two batters in seven innings pitched to take the loss.

NU 004 004 1 – 9 8 3

PA 000 000 0 – 0 5 6

Anna Ingalls (WP) and Rory McClellan. Meredith Olson (LP) and Lydia Knapp.

LOB-North Union 5, Panorama 13. HR-Sarah Rolling (NU). SAC-Ingalls (NU), S. Rolling (NU), Maddie Rolling (NU), Bre Anderson (NU), Aly Bierstedt (NU).