Estherville Lincoln Central will face a familiar foe in the first round of the Class 3A Softball Tournament on Monday.
The Midgets (20-10) will take on top-ranked Sergeant Bluff-Luton (33-3) at 7 p.m. The two teams met early in the season on May 24 in Sioux City. ELC had taken a 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh inning, but the Warriors scored two runs in the bottom of the inning to win 5-4.
"They're a very well-coached team and disciplined," said ELC coach Megan Anderson. They have some good hitters and once they get runners on base, they bunt them around."
Estherville Lincoln Central softball coach Megan Anderson talks to her team during the Midgets’ district final game against No. 6 Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley on Tuesday. ELC won 6-5 over the Nighthawks to advance to the state softball tournament for the third straight season.
EDN photo by David Swartz
According to ELC's stats on quikstatsiowa.com, the Midget had six hits in that game, one each from six different players. ELC ace Liz Brashear gave up 10 hits with three strikeouts. Of the five runs scored by SBL, only three were earned.
"Their pitcher (junior Miles Ludwigs) throws well and mixes up her pitches," said Anderson. "Their defense is solid and doesn't make errors."
Ludwigs has an 18-2 record this season. In 118 1/3 innings she has struck out 69, walked 40 and hit three with a 1.72 earned run average. Opponents are batting .184 against her.
Ludwigs also is the team leader at the plate with a .537 average including 20 doubles, one triple, nine home runs and 47 RBIs. Senior Marissa Schmidt is also batting over .500 at .504 with 57 hits including 16 doubles, one triple and 33 RBIs. Two other Warriors, Tayler Moriarty and junior Kennedy Colvert are batting over .400 and each have over 40 RBIs.
Anderson said it's a little bit of a relief that the first opponent is one that ELC has played before.
"We just need to give it our best shot," she said.
Looking at the rest of the field, the other six 3A teams are ranked. The winner of ELC and SBL will take on either No. 5 Bondurant-Farrar or No. 9 Monticello with the losers meeting in the consolation bracket.
On the bottom half of the 3A bracket No. 11 Clarke (26-9) faces No. 4 East Marshall (28-5) and No. 14 New Hampton (27-9) plays No. 3 Mid-Prairie (30-10).
"I think the field is pretty open," said Anderson. "It comes down to who is playing the best softball next week."