SHELDON - Tied 5-5 entering the seventh inning, Estherville Lincoln Central and Class 3A sixth-ranked Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley found themselves in a game for the ages.
Both teams had the top of the order coming to the plate. The Midgets put pressure on the Nighthawks by taking the lead with a run in the top of the inning. BHRV couldn't come up with a run in the bottom of the inning as ELC won 6-5.
The victory sends the Midgets to the state softball tournament for the third straight season. ELC placed fifth in 2011 in Class 2A and fourth in the Class 3A tournament last season after the Iowa Girls Athletic Association expanded softball from four to five classes.
ELC senior Kristen King came up with a two-run double in the fifth inning to tie Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley at 3-3. King then scored this go-ahead run on a hit by Macy Dahl in the inning.
EDN photo by David Swartz
ELC (20-10) will face top-ranked Sergeant Bluff-Luton at 7 p.m., Monday, July 22 on Diamond 1 and Rogers Field in Fort Dodge.
ELC coach Megan Anderson said Monday's game might be one of the most dramatic she's been a part of.
The Midgets fell behind 3-0. BHRV scored the first run after CJ Van Der Zwaag led off the second inning with a single. Courtesy runner Nichole Reinke went to second on a groundout and scored when Carlye Polacek reached on ELC's first error of the night.
The Nights Hawks got leadoff singles by Nicole Ewoldt and Kensy VandeHoef. With one out, Alicia Kleinwolterink bunted. ELC got the out at first, but then Alicia Kleinwolterink bunted. Brashear tried to throw home and the error allowed two runs to score.
ELC went to work in the fifth inning. Caitlyn Clayton led off with a single. Jensen then hit a ball back to pitcher Joanna Heemstra. She bobbled the ball and her throw was low to first base. Clayton went to third on the play. Jensen then stole second. Rachel Bates then hit a grounder to third and the Nighthawks tagged out Clayton at home plate.
But Sarah Schacherer then doubled to left to score the first run. Kristen King followed with a double to left-center field that brought in two runs to tie the game.
Van Der Zwaag then entered in relief of Heemstra.
ELC leadoff batter Macy Dahl promptly singled to right center as ELC took a 4-3 lead.
Carson Gjerde then drew a walk. Emily Kirchner stepped to the plate, worked a full count and then was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Liz Brashear then flew out to second via the infield fly rule.
ELC was able to push one more run across, as Clayton had a good out-bat, fouling off several pitches before drawing a walk and giving ELC a 5-3 lead.
But the Nighthawks did go away. Vande Hoef and Moserrat Figueroa both drew walks to lead off the bottom of the fifth. Kleinwolterink then laid down a bunt fielded by Schacherer at third. Her throw to first was in time, but Jensen tried to throw back across the diamond to try to get the lead runner. The throw got past Schacherer as one run scored. Van Der Zwaag followed with a sacrifice fly to centerfield as the Nighthawks tied the game.
Both teams went down in order in the sixth inning.
Dahl led ELC's half of the inning off with a single. She went to second on a passed ball, but Gjerde drew a walk. Emily Kirchner then laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners. Dahl then scored as Brashear grounded out to second.
In the bottom of the seventh, Ewoldt led off with a single. Vande Hoef then safely reached on a bunt. With Figueroa looking to bunt, Ewoldt got caught off base trying to reach third. Kirchner tagged her out. Figueroa then came up with the sacrifice bunt to move Vande Hoef to second. Kleinwolterink worked a full count before she was hit by a pitch. A wild pitch allowed Vande Hoef to go to third. But Vander Zwaag flew out to Dahl at second to end the game.
Both teams finished eight hits.
For ELC, Dahl was 2-4 with an RBI; Clayton was 2-3 with an RBI; Gjerde was 1-2; and Schacherer was 1-3 with an RBI, King was 1-3 with two RBIs and Brashear was 1-4 with an RBI.
Brashear finished with four strikeouts, three walks and one hit batter while giving up seven hits.