Bearcats’ late surge trips Warriors

GREAT CATCH — North Union shortstop Maddie Rolling (right) makes an extended catch on a hard-hit grounder up the middle as North Butler runner Alexis Miller (17) sprints toward third base during Top of Iowa Conference softball action Friday night in Swea City. Warriors outfielder Olivia Von Bank backs up the play. (Photo by Greg Abel)

SWEA CITY — One bad inning doomed the Warriors.

The North Butler Bearcats beat North Union 6-2 during a Top of Iowa Conference softball game Friday night in Swea City.

With the Bearcats leading 2-1 in the top of the sixth, the Warrior defense broke down.

Back-to-back walks started the inning, a passed ball allowed the runners to reach second and third, then Meg Thompson’s line drive to center scored both runs. Thompson was tagged out trying to stretch her single into a double, giving the Warriors two outs, but that’s when the defensive struggles began.

An error at third, an error at first, a single followed by a throwing error, and a wild pitch allowed two more runs to score to extend the North Butler lead to 6-1.

The Warriors looked to come back in their final at-bat when Kaylee Meyer reached base on a walk and came around to score on Hope Steinberger’s single to center, which got by the Bearcat centerfielder and allowed Steinberger to reach second.

Cassie Beadle followed with her second hit of the game to put runners on first and third, but a ground ball to the shortstop ended the Warrior threat and the game.

North Union head coach Kim Price said other than the one bad inning, she thought the Warriors performed well.

“I feel like we stayed in there,” Price said. “We played tough defense, we put the ball in play, we left a few runners on base at key points in the game and we’re gonna have to work on that. We had the one inning with several errors that really gave them the advantage.”

The Warriors scored their first run in the third inning.

After a strikeout to start the frame, Steinberger singled between the shortstop and third baseman and a throwing error allowed her to reach second. Beadle followed with a bunt single to put runners on first and third for Olivia Von Bank.

Olivia Von Bank tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but the Bearcat third baseman began to chase Steinberger off third, forcing a rundown. When no one was covering the third base bag, Steinberger went hard back to the base, causing the North Butler catcher to throw to the oncoming left fielder. The left fielder couldn’t handle the toss, which allowed Steinberger to score.

North Butler got the game started with two runs in the top of the first inning.

Kenzie Groen led off the game with a high-bouncing single over Warrior pitcher Emily Meyer’s head and into center field. Then after a strikeout, North Butler pitcher Kiya Johnson smoked a double that nearly rolled to the left-center field wall to score Groen.

North Union shortstop Maddie Rolling made an excellent running stop to her left and did a full glove-side turn to fire the ball to first and keep the inning from being larger than it was, but Kristin Dralle hit a line-drive single past Rolling and into left field for an RBI for North Butler.

Dralle stole second base and slid hard into the bag, breaking one of the pins holding the base in the ground. The Warriors took a 25-minute break to group together and dig out the dirt surrounding the bag and repack it tightly to hold the base in place.

Emily Meyer pitched all seven innings for the Warriors, allowing six runs — four earned — on seven hits and four walks, while striking out five. Price said Emily Meyer continued her solid pitching.

“Emily went out and she was as strong as she usually is,” Price said. “She was able to work back from a lot of 3-0 and 3-1 counts. She was able to throw strikes and that’s what we want right now, we just need to be able to give our defense a chance to do the work and she did an excellent job of that. Even when she walked one or two, she was able to come back. She’s been pretty consistent.”

Johnson pitched a complete game for the Bearcats, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks, while striking out 12.

North Union (6-11) plays host to North Iowa at 6 p.m. Monday in Swea City, while the Bearcats (13-4) host Bishop Garrigan on Monday in Allison, Iowa.

NB 200 004 0 — 6 7 5

NU 001 000 1 — 2 4 4

Kiya Johnson (WP) and Kristin Dralle. Emily Meyer (LP) and Kaylee Meyer.

LOB–NB 7, NU 6. 2B–Kiya Johnson (NB). SAC–Haley Freesemann (NB), Shawna Person (NU).