No. 14 Warriors take softball pair from Gaels
SWEA CITY — North Union head coach Kim Price, assistant coach Jack Von Bank and their softball players were so focused on trying to sweep two games from St. Edmond, no one realized the Warriors had broken into the Iowa Class 2A state rankings on Thursday.
Ace right-hander Emily Meyer and her sure-handed Warriors’ defense held the visiting Gaels in check for the final four frames of the two non-league rivals’ suspended clash from June 18 to pocket Game 1, 7-3, in Swea City.
Olivia Von Bank traded an out for the go-ahead run in the fourth inning before drilling a pivotal two-run double in the sixth to pace North Union’s 7-4 comeback win over St. Edmond in Game 2.
“Really? I didn’t even check the rankings today,” said Price, whose lineup garnered the No. 14 spot in the latest Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union’s state poll. “We just wanted to match the intensity from the first three innings of our game in Fort Dodge two weeks ago where we led 4-3 coming into tonight’s completion of it.
“The girls then carried that same intensity over into the second game and we rallied for another win.”
Trailing 4-2 heading into the bottom of the third inning in Thursday’s nightcap, Olivia Von Bank manufactured a solo run for the Warriors to inch within one. Olivia Von Bank reached on an error, took second base on Kaylee Tirevold’s sacrifice bunt and scored when Vanessa Von Bank’s second of three singles in Game 2 was mishandled.
Meyer then worked around back-to-back singles by the Gaels’ Kaili Henning and Jocy Timmerman during the top of the fourth on the strength of defensive gems by centerfielder Hope Steinberger and right fielder Ella Ulrich. The speedy Steinberger cut off the angle of Henning’s gapper to hold her to a single. After Timmerman singled, Ulrich made a diving catch of a sinking liner off Gracie Harvey’s bat to potentially save two runs.
Steinberger then transitioned smoothly from defense to offense in the home half of the fourth by drilling a double to trigger a two-out rally. Steinberger, who reached second on a wild pitch, scored on Cassie Beadle’s RBI slap infield hit to knot the game at 4-all.
Beadle, who went 3-for-4 in Game 2, alertly wheeled to third base when Olivia Von Bank blooped a two-out single into shallow center. Von Bank then broke for second base, stopped to draw a throw, and then stayed into a rundown long enough for Beadle to score the go-ahead run for a 5-4 lead.
Meyer then eluded danger again in the top of the sixth as Henning doubled before the North Union freshman issued back-to-back walks with two out. After Jack Von Bank visited the pitching circle, Meyer delivered the most important strikeout of her total of eight on the game to strand three Gaels runners on base in maintaining the 5-4 lead.
“After she (Meyer) walked the bases loaded, I told her we have a force (out) at any base, so just calm down, throw strikes and we’ll get out of this without giving up the lead,” said Jack Von Bank. “Emily then took care of the last out by getting the next batter looking at a called third (strike).”
Steinberger then reached on an error to lead off the Warriors’ sixth, took second on Beadle’s perfect bunt hit and both runners scored on Olivia Von Bank’s clutch two-run double to the left-center gap for a 7-4 edge.
Beadle and Vanessa Von Bank each went 3-for-4 in Game 2, with Von Bank producing two RBIs. Steinberger, who went 2-for-4, and Beadle each scored three runs in the nightcap, while Olivia Von Bank went 2-for-4 with the two RBIs.
Meyer allowed four runs by scattering 12 hits, struck out eight and walked four in seven innings of work to earn the complete-game victory in Game 2.
Meyer gave up three runs on six hits, fanned seven and walked two in seven combined innings to pocket the win in Game 1.
Olivia Von Bank went 3-for-3 with a double and two RBIs, while Steinberger and Beadle each delivered two hits and one RBI in the completed opener.
North Union (8-2) plays host to Garner-Hayfield/Ventura at 6 p.m. tonight in Swea City.