Brouse extends power surge as HCHS routs East 11-1

Senior softball slugger has hit six home runs in last nine games; Cyclones won eight of nine entering stretch run

 HARLAN (June 29) -- Power numbers typically rise and fall in the sports of baseball and softball.
 The average slugger might go two weeks without hitting one out of the park, then bash about one home run a day.
 Right now, senior Emily Brouse is on one of those feel-good tears for the Harlan Community softball team.
 Brouse homered two more times Tuesday night at H. Jack Field, blasting a go-ahead three-run bomb in the bottom of the first and adding a solo shot in the fourth to lead the Cyclones past Sioux City East 11-1 in five innings. She was also the winning pitcher.
 Since homering just once in her first 23 games of the season, Brouse has now gone deep six times in the last nine games to give her a home run total of seven that ranks third in the Hawkeye Ten Conference.
 Coincidentally, HCHS has won eight of those nine games and took a record of 23-9 into Thursday’s varsity doubleheader at Clarinda. The Cyclones are 14-3 in conference play.
 Brouse credits an improved mental approach and a little sense of urgency for her recent success.
 “As the season goes on I’ve been kind of relaxing more and realizing that I don’t have many games left, so I’ve been doing less thinking and more relaxing, just having fun at the plate... just finding my pitch,” she said.
 “I’m being more selective... instead of just swinging at whatever comes near.”
 Brouse acknowledges that her improved results have helped her relax even more in the batter’s box and says the whole team is starting to peak at the right time with less than a handful of regular season games remaining.
 “It definitely feels better once you’re in a groove, but I definitely think the team atmosphere - we’re all coming together, we’re all figuring it out, so I think we just feed off each other,” she said.
 Brouse said she tries to keep her hitting and pitching success separate from a mental aspect so that an off night in one category doesn’t affect her confidence in the other.
 She was her typical tough self in the circle against the Black Raiders (14-16), allowing two hits and a run in the top of the first before putting up zeros the rest of the way. She gave up six hits in five frames, walked one and struck out seven, improving her personal record to 12-6.
 “I try to keep it separate, because if I’m not hitting a good game I want to make sure that I’m doing my job on the mound,” Brouse said. “And it definitely helps with my defense backing me up all the time.”
 The Cyclones didn’t trail for long in Tuesday’s first inning as an East error and Julia Schechinger single set the table for Brouse’s three-run blast. They added single runs in the next two frames, including an Aurora Miller RBI double in the third, then scored three runs each in the fourth and the fifth to achieve the 10-run rule.
 Jordan Heese’s line-drive sacrifice fly preceded Brouse’s second homer in the fourth and Tianna Kasperbauer hit a two-out RBI single in the fifth. An error and a wild pitch let in the final two runs to end the game.
 Brouse finished 3-for-3 at the plate while Kate Heithoff (3 runs) and Kasperbauer both hit a pair of singles.
 Gracie Bruening had two hits for East, which scored early on back-to-back doubles from Kille Junck and Raelyn Angerman. The Black Raiders committed four errors behind losing pitcher Evie Larson.
 HCHS will have a few days off following Thursday’s twin bill, then host St. Albert Monday night (varsity first) and Dallas Center-Grimes Tuesday to close out the regular season.
 “It’s gone by way faster than I want and it’s been so much fun,” Brouse said. “We’ve been playing with each other for 10 years and it just feels like - wow. It’s unbelievable [to almost be done]. It’s sad.”

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