No. 4 North Union softball belts Forest City, 15-4
SWEA CITY — North Union’s recent 10-game winning streak served as the catalyst behind the Warriors’ climb from No. 9 to No. 4 in this week’s Iowa Class 2A softball rankings.
North Union extended its string of victories to 11 in a row by pounding out 18 hits, including four for extra bases, to engineer a 15-4, five-inning triumph over the Forest City Indians on Friday night in Swea City.
“I didn’t expect us to climb that many spots in the rankings that just came out,” Warriors’ head coach Kim Price said modestly.
Despite the rise in the state poll, North Union got off to a less-than-auspicious start, allowing two Forest City runs on the heels of Ellie Caylor’s infield hit, a rare hit batter and an unusual three wild pitches during the top of the first inning.
The Warriors’ potent batting order, however, quickly transformed a two-run deficit into a two-run edge by plating four runs on four hits during the home half of the initial frame.
“Everybody knows about how good (ace hurler) Emily (Meyer) is, but they sometimes forget how good our offense is,” said Price, who’s lineup improved its overall batting average to a league-best .451 through 17 games this summer. “We came into tonight’s game either No. 1 or 2 in the (Top of Iowa) conference in batting average, on-base percentage (.531, first) and slugging (.574, second).”
Cassie Beadle set the proverbial offensive table for the Warriors by lining a single, swiped second base and wheeled home on Olivia Von Bank’s RBI single to center. Both Beadle and Olivia Von Bank collected three hits, with Von Bank producing a game-high four RBIs and scoring three runs.
In fact, all nine Warrior batters collected at least one hit during the run-rule-shortened game and drove in a minimum of one run, with the exception being Beadle, who scored a game-leading four runs.
“Cassie’s offensive numbers are incredible. She came into tonight’s game with 30 hits and 30 runs scored,” said Price.
Vanessa Von Bank walked to keep the Warriors’ first-inning momentum going before Meyer drilled an RBI single up the middle. Shelby Fraker walked before Maggie Engelby and Naomi Jones followed with an RBI fielder’s choice and a run-scoring single, respectively, for a 4-2 lead.
Meyer then struck out the Forest City side in order during the top of the second before Beadle established the tone for a two-run breakout in the home half.
Beadle, who went 3-for-4, legged out a bunt hit before coasting around the bases when Olivia Von Bank crushed her fifth home run of the season over the left-field fence for a 6-2 lead.
Ella Ulrich then displayed her power at the plate by swatting a leadoff double off the base of the fence in right field to trigger the Warriors’ four-run third at-bat. Ulrich later raced home on Sam Nielsen’s RBI bunt hit for a 7-2 advantage.
Beadle singled, Olivia Von Bank walked and Vanessa Von Bank drilled a two-run single to right-center to widen the hometown lineup’s lead to 9-2. Olivia Von Bank later scored on the heels of Meyer’s single and Fraker’s RBI fielder’s choice.
Ahead 10-3 after allowing an unearned run in the top of the fourth, Ulrich reached via an error before being replaced on base on Beadle’s fielder’s choice. Beadle later crossed the plate on Olivia Von Bank’s RBI single to center.
Caylor, who went 3-for-3, singled and later scored her second run of the game in the top of the fifth via one of the Warriors’ four errors on the game to slice the gap to 11-4.
Meyer delivered the first of two doubles during North Union’s fifth and final at-bat to end the contest via the run-rule.
Courtesy runner Beth Strueber moved to third base on Fraker’s bunt hit before scoring on Engelby’s RBI double to left field. Jones followed with an RBI single to plate courtesy runner Libby Stevens before Ulrich lined a two-run single to the left-center gap to create an early exit from the ballpark for both teams.
Beadle, Olivia Von Bank and Meyer each collected three hits, while Vanessa Von Bank, Jones and Ulrich supplied two hits apiece.
Meyer allowed four runs — all unearned — on five hits in five frames of work to earn the complete-game victory. Meyer recorded a game-leading 11 strikeouts without issuing a walk.
North Union (16-1) competes in the West Sioux Invitational starting at 10 a.m. today at Ireton City Park in Ireton, Iowa.
Forest City (4-11) competes in the North Butler Invitational at 9 a.m. today in Greene, Iowa.
FC 200 11 — 4 5 1
NU 424 14 — 15 18 4
Winning runs scored with no outs in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Alyson Walker (LP) and Keevan Jones. Emily Meyer (WP) and Shelby Fraker.
LOB–North Union 10, Forest City 5. 2B–Emily Meyer (NU), Maggie Engelby (NU) and Ella Ulrich (NU). HR–Olivia Von Bank (NU, #5).