Cyclone first baseman Anna Ahrenholtz catches a low throw for a putout. Cyclone senior Lexi Larsen tracks a ball in center field. (Photos by Mike Oeffner) HCHS junior Morgan Schaben throws out a Lewis Central runner from shortstop.

LC blanks Cyclones in regular season softball finale

HCHS hopes for rematch Saturday with 4A regional win at Glenwood

 HARLAN (July 2) -- It wasn’t the ideal way to finish regular-season play, but Harlan Community softball coach Brooke Schaben feels okay about her team’s momentum going into Thursday’s 7:00 p.m. postseason opener at Glenwood.
 On Monday night, 10th-ranked (4A) Lewis Central blanked HCHS 6-0 at H. Jack Field to cap a regular-season sweep. The two teams could meet again in a 4A regional semifinal Saturday (7 p.m.) at LC, but the Cyclones must first beat the Rams, who they split a doubleheader with on June 14.
 LC senior Ashtyn Miller led off Monday’s game with a home run to left field, scored three runs and also pitched a three-hit shutout as the Titans improved to 27-9 overall and 16-4 in the Hawkeye Ten Conference, good for third place in the final standings.
 HCHS, which has won six of nine since snapping a six-game slide in mid-June, had one outfield misplay vs. Lewis Central but otherwise played solid defense in the loss. The Cyclones finished fifth in the Hawkeye Ten at 12-8 and took a 15-16 overall record into regionals.
 “If we can continue to play defense like that, our bats are going to figure themselves out,” Schaben said. “I thought when we did hit the ball [hard], it went right to them, which was unlucky, but I felt like (we) adjusted throughout the game. It didn’t produce anything, but I saw adjustments being made.”
 Miller (19-6) struck out five, walked one and hit one batter Monday, scattering three Harlan singles by Lexi Larsen, Madison Parman and Tianna Kasperbauer. The Cyclones did not have a runner reach third base until the final inning.
 HCHS, meanwhile, did not show the Titans its number one pitcher Morgan Schaben, instead throwing Kasperbauer (1-3), who allowed eight hits and five earned runs. She walked five, hit a batter and struck out three.
 Monday was also Senior Night for Lexi Larsen and Molly Gubbels, who were recognized along with their parents prior to the game.

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