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Panthers end Warriors’ season in Region 5 semis

RUNNING IT DOWN — North Union left fielder Sam Nielsen runs into foul territory to make an inning-ending catch during the fifth inning of the Class 2A Region 5 softball semifinals Friday in Manly, Iowa. The Class 2A No. 6-ranked Central Springs Panthers downed the Warriors, 8-0, ending the No. 15-ranked Warriors’ season with a record of 12-5. (Photo by Kyle McAreavy)

MANLY, IOWA — Early mistakes set the Warriors behind during the Class 2A Region 5 semifinal softball matchup Friday in Manly, Iowa.

The Class 2A No. 6-ranked Central Springs Panthers beat the No. 15-ranked North Union Warriors 8-0, advancing to the Region 5 championship against Emmetsburg, which beat Manson-Northwest Webster 12-0 Friday in Emmetsburg to reach the finals.

The Warriors end their season with a record of 12-5.

“We had so many phenomenal defensive games,” North Union head coach Kim Price said. “They (Warriors) definitely focused on that this year. Our bats came around later in the year. … They kept working and kept working. … It was fun, the girls had fun and we enjoyed the time we had together. I’m really glad we got to play this year.”

Kaylea Fessler led the game off with a bunt single. The Warriors got the next batter, but a walk put runners on first and third for Aurora Stepleton, who hit a hard ground ball, causing an error and allowing the Panthers’ first run to score. The Panthers got another when Abigayle Angell hit a sacrifice fly to center, but the inning ended on the same play when Warrior catcher Kaylee Tirevold took the throw from centerfielder Hope Steinberger and fired to third to catch Stepleton advancing.

Central Springs added a run in the second when Emme Dietrich doubled to the wall in left field, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on another wild pitch.

The Panthers’ 3-0 lead held until the bottom of the fourth, when Stepleton and Angell hit back-to-back home runs.

Stepleton hit a high fly over the wall in left-center field, then Angell followed with a lined shot the opposite way over the wall in right field.

The Panthers scored three more in the fifth on three consecutive walks, an error that allowed one run to score and a two-RBI single from Abby Pate.

Cooper Klaahsen started in the circle for the Panthers, pitching five innings and allowing no runs on four hits and no walks, while striking out seven. Fessler pitched the final two innings, allowing one walk.

Emily Meyer started in the circle for the Warriors’ pitching three innings. Meyer allowed five runs — three earned — on four hits and one walk, while striking out two.

Eighth grader Lexi Vaske pitched the final three innings for the Warriors, allowing three runs on two hits, three walks and a hit batter.

Sam Nielsen was the lone Warrior with multiple hits, singling in both the first and third innings.

In the first, she ran out an infield single, moved to second on a Cassie Beadle sacrifice bunt, then moved to third on a groundout, but a flyout ended the inning with Nielsen 60 feet from home.

In the third, Tirevold hit a line-drive single to left, then Nielsen tried to drop a sacrifice bunt, but was able to beat the throw to first.

Beadle put down her second sacrifice bunt, this time leaving runners on second and third with two outs, but a strikeout ended the frame with the Warriors still scoreless.

Emily Meyer collected the Warriors lone other hit, singling to left. Olivia Von Bank reached base on a walk in the sixth for the Warriors’ fifth baserunner of the matchup.

“I think we came to play and we did well right off the bat,” Price said. “We got some things going, but we weren’t able to sting anything together or score any runs. Emily did a great job pitching, they (Central Springs) had three runs on one hit at one point. … There were just a couple of things that weren’t exactly typical for us that ended up costing us.”

NU 000 000 0 – 0 4 2

CS 210 230 x — 8 6 0

Emily Meyer (LP), Lexi Vaske (4) and Kaylee Tirevold.

Cooper Klaahsen (WP), Kaylea Fessler (6) and Madisyn Kelley.

LOB­–North Union 5, Central Springs 4. 2B–Emme Dietrich (CS). HR–Aurora Stepleton (CS), Abigayle Angell (CS),

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