Warriors’ softball team corrals Bison, 13-3

HELPING HER CAUSE — North Union pitcher Emily Meyer fires the softball to first base to record the out on North Iowa batter Ella Hughes (left) during Top of Iowa Conference action Tuesday night in Swea City. North Union third baseman Cassie Beadle (back right) watches the action. (Photo by Greg Abel)

SWEA CITY — North Union senior shortstop Maddie Rolling tore both the ACL and meniscus in her left knee during the early stages of her junior season of volleyball in the fall of 2017.

After more than 20 months of grueling rehab, Rolling’s powerful swing on the Iowa prep softball diamond has started to find its groove again.

Rolling went 2-for-4 with a game-best three RBIs, including the walk-off single with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, to steer the Warriors to a 13-3 run-rule triumph over the North Iowa Bison on Tuesday night.

“It (knee) doesn’t feel like it’s holding me back when I swing the bat,” said Rolling. “I’ve never really stepped (toward the pitcher) when I hit, so that’s nothing new.”

Ahead by eight runs, North Union starting pitcher Emily Meyer assisted her own cause by drawing a leadoff walk from North Iowa right-hander Leah Kramersmeier to trigger the Warriors’ late mini-offensive surge in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Courtesy runner Halle Rezac then displayed her speed by reaching third base on back-to-back wild pitches before scampering home on a ground-hugging fourth ball to Kaylee Tirevold.

Tirevold reached second base on Sam Nielsen’s sacrifice bunt before motoring to third base when Cassie Beadle legged out a bunt hit. One out later, Rolling drilled an offering into left field to plate Tirevold with the game-clinching run.

The Bison, however, stampeded their way to a quick 2-0 lead on the strength of four hits with two outs in the top of the first inning.

Brenna Paulson launched a double over North Union centerfielder Hope Steinberger’s head and later scored on Kramersmeier’s RBI single up the middle. North Iowa courtesy runner Sydney Sabin, who reached third base on a wild pitch, trotted home on Hannah Main’s RBI single to center.

North Union, however, answered with a solo run via the speedy legs of leadoff batter Hope Steinberger during the home half of the first. Steinberger wheeled to second base when her fly ball to left was dropped, gained third on a wild pitch and scored on Olivia Von Bank’s RBI single back through the box.

The Warriors hung up crooked numbers on the scoreboard for each of the next five innings to eventually earn an early exit from the Top of Iowa Conference game.

Vanessa Von Bank singled and later circled the bases on Tirevold’s thrown-away sacrifice bunt in the second. Steinberger singled before both Tirevold and Steinberger moved into scoring position on Beadle’s sacrifice bunt.

Olivia Von Bank walked to jam the base paths before Rolling hammered a two-run single to left field to double the Warriors’ lead on the Bison to 4-2.

Rolling’s sure-handed glovework and rocket throw to first base eased Emily Meyer & Co. out of bases-loaded trouble in the top of the third. Kramersmeier and Hannah Boekelman delivered bookend singles around Main reaching on an error to load the bases with one out.

Madison Hassebroek hit the softball on the proverbial nose, but Rolling picked the liner out of mid-air and zipped her throw across the diamond to Warriors first baseman Shawna Person for the inning-ending double play.

Vanessa Von Bank’s one-out double and an error on Emily Meyer’s fly ball to left produced another North Union run in the last of the third. An ensuing double-steal on the heels of Steinberger’s fielder’s choice that created a first-and-third situation plated Nielsen, who was courtesy running for Meyer. Unfortunately, Steinberger suffered an injured shoulder attempting to safely return to second base, but was out — both on the play and from the lineup.

“The trainer said I should be fine. It was a bit scary at first after I collided (with North Iowa’s middle infielder),” said Steinberger, who was hitting at a team-leading pace of .539 going into the game.

Ariel Olson and Person each produced RBI singles to highlight North Union’s two-run fourth at-bat before Emily Meyer’s double and Nielsen’s RBI bunt hit triggered a three-run fifth frame. Olivia Von Bank added an infield hit before Olson plated a run by getting plunked with the bases loaded. Person then added an RBI by drawing an ensuing walk.

Rolling, Olivia Von Bank and Vanessa Von Bank each produced two of the Warriors’ dozen hits on the game.

Emily Meyer allowed three runs — two earned — on 10 hits, struck out two and walked two in six innings pitched to earn the complete-game victory.

Kramersmeier, who went 3-for-3 to top the Bison’s offensive effort, took the loss inside the chalked circle. The Bison right-hander gave up 13 runs on 12 hits, walked seven, struck out three and hit two in 5 2/3 innings.

North Union (11-14) plays host to Garner-Hayfield/Ventura at 6 p..m. tonight in Swea City. North Iowa (4-14) plays host to Northwood-Kensett at 6 p.m. tonight in Buffalo Center.

N. Iowa 200 001 — 3 10 4

N. Union 132 232 — 13 12 4

Winning run scored with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Leah Kramersmeier (LP) and Madison Hassebroek. Emily Meyer (WP) and Kaylee Meyer.

LOB–North Union 10; North Iowa 8. 2B–Vanessa Von Bank (NU), Emily Meyer (NU), Brenna Paulson (N. Iowa), Danessa Bruner (N. Iowa) and Ella Hughes (N. Iowa). SAC–Sam Nielsen (NU), Cassie Beadle (NU), Kaylee Tirevold (NU).