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North Union cruises to semifinal

TWO HANDS — North Union shortstop Olivia Von Bank (right) puts her glove up to catch a pop up during Class 2A Region 5 softball quarterfinal action Wednesday against Lake Mills at Central Springs High School in Manly, Iowa. Warrior center fielder Hope Steinberger (left) runs in to back up the play. (Photo by Kyle McAreavy)

MANLY, IOWA – Emily Meyer’s pitching and a couple big offensive innings led the Class 2A No. 15-ranked North Union Warriors to a quarterfinal playoff win Wednesday.

The Warriors beat the Lake Mills Bulldogs 9-4 during a Class 2A Region 5 quarterfinal matchup at Central Springs High School in Manly, Iowa. With the win, the Warriors (12-4) move on to the semifinal where they will face the Class 2A No. 6-ranked Central Springs Panthers (15-3) after the Panthers beat West Hancock 10-0 Wednesday.

Meyer started the game off strong for North Union, striking out six batters, while facing the minimum nine hitters during the first three innings.

She gave up her first hit in the fourth, but Meyer caught a line drive right back at her and threw to first for a double play, keeping her at the minimum.

Lake Mills got its first runner in scoring position in the next inning.

Madison Edwards led off the inning with a walk, then Hope Levine singled up the middle to put runners on first and second.

Meyer would not be deterred.

She struck out the next two batters on six pitches and forced a one-pitch pop up to get out of the inning unscathed.

“She did an excellent job, she had an excellent game,” North Union head coach Kim Price said of her ace starter. “Couldn’t be happier with her performance.”

North Union’s offense started its support of Meyer early.

Sam Nielsen led off the home half of the first inning with a single up the middle, then she stole both second and third during Cassie Beadle’s at-bat.

Beadle then grounded out for an RBI to put the Warriors ahead in the opening frame.

Vanessa Von Bank got the Warriors going in the second with a single through the left side of the infield before Maggie Engelby walked.

Ella Ulrich attempted to sacrifice bunt, but the throw to first was wild, allowing Von Bank to score and putting Ulrich and Engelby on second and third, respectively.

After a pop out, Kaylee Tirevold hit a bloop single just behind the left side of the infield for an RBI, putting runners on first and third.

Tirevold then took off for second and drew a throw, allowing Ulrich to steal home. Tirevold advanced to third after the throw to second sailed into center field.

She then scored when, with two outs and the bases loaded after back-to-back walks, Steinberger hit a hard ground ball up the middle, fielded by the Lake Mills second baseman. She raced to the bag, but Olivia Von Bank won the race to the base, scoring Tirevold and leaving the bases loaded.

The Warriors scored again in the third when Ulrich walked and Tirevold, Nielsen and Beadle hit three consecutive singles to move Ulrich around the bases.

Another run came in the fourth for NU.

Steinberger singled up the middle, then Vanessa Von Bank launched the best contact of the day, sending a line drive over the head of the Bulldogs’ left fielder for a double and an RBI.

Going into the sixth, the Warriors held an 8-0 lead.

Then the Bulldogs got their timing on offense.

Olivia Moen led off with a single to center, then Meyer got back-to-back outs on a strikeout and groundout.

The Bulldogs then had a batter hit by a pitch and strung together four consecutive hits to score four runs before Meyer struck out the ninth batter of the inning to end the frame.

During the rally, Levine sent a line drive off Meyer’s side and she needed a minute to recover.

“You would have though she didn’t even get hit,” Price said. “She just mentally pushed through. She just was not going to let it affect her. I’m glad it hit her glove first, though.”

Meyer stayed in and got through the final inning without a baserunner.

After the Bulldogs halved the Warriors’ lead, North Union added an insurance run in the sixth.

Steinberger reached base on an error, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored when Engelby bunted into a fielder’s choice at the plate, with Steinberger sliding into home well ahead of the play.

Nielsen led the top of the lineup with two hits, while Beadle walked once and had a single.

Steinberger singled, had an RBI and scored two runs, while Vanessa Von Bank had a single, a double and a walk.

Tirevold added two hits and two RBIs for the Warriors.

“I think we came out ready to play,” Price said. “Emily (Meyer) had a great game. … We need to play a better game than we did last time we played them (Central Springs). I want them to come ready to play. … If we play the way we’ve played the last four, five, six games, I’m absolutely confident that we can be in the game (Friday).”

LM 000 004 0 — 4 7 3

NU 142 101 x — 9 8 0

Emily Meyer (WP) and Kaylee Tirevold. Leah Moen (LP) and Kit Byars.

LOB–North Union 8, Lake Mills 4. 2B–Vanessa Von Bank (NU).

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