Cyclone softball team loses twice going into regionals

 HARLAN (July 6) -- The Harlan Community softball team must turn the page quickly for the start of regional play following a sour ending to the regular season earlier this week.
 One night after losing 7-4 to an 11-21 St. Albert team, the Cyclones were defeated 12-2 in six innings by No. 7-ranked (4A) Dallas Center-Grimes here Tuesday night.
 HCHS completed the 2021 regular season with a solid overall record of 25-11 and will have a first round bye when the Class 4A regional tournament starts Thursday (July 8).
 The winner between Lewis Central (18-15) and Denison-Schleswig (19-14) will face the Cyclones in Harlan Saturday night for a Region 2 semifinal at 7:00 p.m.
 If the Cyclones advance, their regional final opponent will likely be top-ranked and defending 4A state champion Winterset (31-7) on Tuesday night.
 “It is not how we wanted to end our regular season, but we now have to regroup,” stated HCHS head coach Toshia Kasperbauer.
 “We talked about not looking back and now we have to put that behind us and focus on our postseason goal. We are going to go back to some of the basics in our practices this week and focus on the small things.”
 Dallas Center-Grimes (21-15) ended up using 18 players in its 10-run win over the Cyclones, plating six runs in the third to take a 9-2 lead.
 HCHS actually led 2-1 after an inning, scoring two unearned runs in the first off DC-G starter Hannah Luellen.
 Kate Heithoff, Tianna Kasperbauer and Jordan Heese all went 1-for-3 at the plate for the Cyclones, with Heithoff and Kasperbauer both scoring a run.
 DC pitchers only struck out four, but did not issue any walks.
 Emily Brouse (13-7) and Kasperbauer both pitched three innings for HCHS. Brouse allowed five hits and nine runs, but only three were earned. She walked three and struck out two. Kasperbauer allowed three hits and three runs (one earned) with two walks, two hit batters and one K.
 Five Cyclone errors helped fuel the DC-G offense, which was led by Kylie Merical’s 2-for-3, one-homer night, two runs scored and three RBI. Merical also doubled, as did Aubrey Johansen (2-for-2) and Haylee Hidlebaugh.
St. Albert 7, HCHS 4
 The visiting Saintes, who lost to Harlan 10-0 on June 10, put together three-run rallies in the fourth and sixth innings and finished off the Cyclones 7-4 at H. Jack Field Monday night.
 The Hawkeye Ten finale for both squads saw HCHS finish 16-4 in conference play - tied for second place with Creston - and St. Albert improve to 6-14 (11-21 overall).
 The Cyclones outhit the Saintes 11-6 but stranded nine runners on base and were hampered by physical and mental errors throughout the late innings.
 Trailing 2-0 in the fourth, St. Albert’s first three-run rally started with a single and an error on a sac bunt. Alexis Narmi’s two-run double tied the score and she later scored on a passed ball to make it 3-2.
 HCHS plated an unearned run in the fourth to knot the score and took its final lead (4-3) in the fifth when Madison Schumacher’s sacrifice fly brought home Jordan Heese.
 The Saintes would answer with another three-spot in the sixth - all starting with a two-out walk. Mallory Daley hit a game-tying double to center, Georgie Bohnet hit a single and Anna Helton greeted relief pitcher Emily Brouse with a two-run single to make it 6-4.
 After the Cyclones failed to take advantage of two St. Albert errors in the bottom of the sixth - making two base-running mistakes along the way - the Saintes added an insurance run in the seventh. Kylie Wesack’s leadoff hit got past the center fielder for an error and two passed balls later it was 7-4.
 HCHS went down in order in the bottom of the seventh.
 Tianna Kasperbauer (12-3) took the pitching loss, allowing four hits and six runs (four earned) in five and two-thirds innings. She walked two, hit one batter and struck out seven.
 Kasperbauer retired the first nine batters of the game before running into some trouble the second time through St. Albert’s lineup.
 Offensively, Kate Heithoff went 3-for-4 for HCHS while Kasperbauer and Schumacher both had a pair of singles. Brouse opened the scoring with a two-run single in the third and Heese, Aurora Miller and Kennedy Kjergaard also had one hit.
 Narmi pitched all seven innings for St. Albert, striking out seven and walking only one batter.

Class 4A, Region 2 Softball Tournament
First Round Games - Thursday, July 8
Glenwood at Creston, 7:00 p.m.    Lewis Central at Denison, 7:00 p.m.
Regional Semifinals - Saturday, July 10
Creston or Glenwood at Winterset, 7:00 p.m.
Denison or Lewis Central at Harlan Community, 7:00 p.m.
Regional Final - Tuesday, July 13 • Site TBD, 7:00 p.m.

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