STATE CENTER - The season ended in heartache for the North Polk softball team Friday as the Comets went nine innings with No. 10 West Marshall before falling in a 5-4 Class 3A regional semifinal battle at State Center.
North Polk (18-13) outplayed West Marshall (32-6) over the first four innings. The Comets led 4-2 going into the fifth after recording two runs in the first inning and one apiece in the next two, and giving up one the first and another in the third.
Neither team scored in the fourth and North Polk was again kept off the board in the top of the fifth. West Marshall then came up with two big runs in the bottom of the inning to even things up.
Comet pitcher Sophie Swygman and Trojan hurler Kallie Malloy dominated the next two innings to force an extra frame. Both teams went scoreless in the eighth and North Polk was kept off the board in the top of the ninth.
That opened the door for West Marshall in the bottom of the ninth and the Trojans capitalized by plating the winning run.
Swygman turned in a game effort in defeat. She gave up three earned runs on 11 hits with nine strikeouts and three walks in 8 ⅓ innings.
Rebecca Rimathe went 2-for-4 with a double and a run, Sydney Anderson finished 2-for-4 with a run, Ellie Owen tripled and drove in a run and Carolyn Steffen doubled and scored for North Polk on offense. Maddy Hill and Jenna Fagen each drove in one run, Hannah Foster singled, Trisha Sporra walked and scored and Paige Sandberg picked up one free pass.
Malloy gave up one earned run and she struck out six with two walks, going all nine innings as the victorious Trojan pitcher. Brooke Snider was 3-for-4 with a homer, two runs and two RBI; Karisa Blocker finished 2-for-4 with a double, walk and RBI and Cayla Cripps wound up 2-for-3 with one walk, steal and RBI apiece for West Marshall.
West Marshall 5, North Polk 4 (9)
NP 211 000 000 - 4 7 NA
WM 101 020 001 - 5 11 NA
NP: Sophie Swygman and Trisha Sporra.
WM: Kallie Malloy and Georgia Porter.
2B: NP - Rebecca Rimathe, Carolyn Steffen. WM - Porter, Karisa Blocker, Grace Porter.
3B: NP - Ellie Owen.
HR: WM - Brooke Snider.
DES MOINES - North Polk made its presence known early against Saydel in the Class 3A regional quarterfinals July 5 at Saydel High School in Des Moines.
With the backing of an enthusiastic bench, North Polk built a 4-0 lead after 1 ½ innings and coasted to a 7-4 victory.
“It’s awesome to start out strong,” North Polk senior left fielder Maddy Hill said. “This is probably one of the best games we’ve played all season.”
In the top of the first inning, Hill and Carolyn Steffen drove in runs with sacrifice flies after Ellie Owen singled, Trisha Sporra reached on an error and Rebecca Rimathe walked for the Comets. Jenna Fagen capped the scoring with an RBI single.
Sydney Anderson pushed the Comet lead to four runs in the first at-bat of the second inning as she belted a solo home run, which is more than she bargained for.
“Usually I like to just hit line drives and grounders and push people forward,” Anderson said. “But I was by myself, so I just wanted to get on base.”
Saydel put up a run in the bottom of the second. North Polk held the 4-1 lead until the fourth inning, when Fagen doubled and Anderson drove her home with a sacrifice fly.
The Comet lead grew to 7-1 in the top of the fifth when Hill singled in two runs after Owen reached on catcher’s interference and Sporra and Rimathe each singled.
“We had to get it in our head, we had to have a team at-bat,” Hill said of her big hit. “Just move our runners — that’s our goal every time.”
Hill’s hit turned out to be big as the Eagles eventually clawed back within three by the end of the sixth inning. Anneliese Barton hit an RBI single in the fifth inning and Deleaney Shinn connected for a two-run homer in the sixth inning.
North Polk failed to score in the top of the seventh inning. But Comet pitcher Sophie Swygman retired Saydel in order in the bottom of the seventh to complete the victory and put her team in the regional semifinals.
Swygman allowed three earned runs on eight hits with five strikeouts and just one walk in seven innings to earn the victory. She overcame two Comet errors and was backed by an offense that produced seven hits.
Hill drove in three runs and Fagen finished 2-for-3 with a double, run and RBI. Fagen, a freshman, has provided a big spark for the team late in the season.
“You want to do it for your team and play your part in it,” Fagen said. “Do what you can to help out.”
Anderson went 1-for-2 with two RBI, and Sporra and Rimathe were both 1-for-3 with two runs. Owen finished 1-for-3 with one run and Paige Sandberg drew a walk.
Saydel pitcher Kaylee Polke gave up three earned runs with two walks and one strikeouts in seven innings as the losing pitcher. Shinn went 3-for-3 with two runs and three RBI, Carissa Boley ended up 2-for-3 with a double and a run and Shelby Weber doubled twice for the Eagles, who finished 17-17.
North Polk 7, Saydel 4
NP 310 120 0 - 7 7 2
S 010 012 0 - 4 8 1
NP: Sophie Swygman and Trisha Sporra.
S: Kaylee Polke and Lindsay Bianchi.
2B: NP - Jenna Fagen. S - Shelby Weber 2, Carissa Boley, Jade Olsen.
HR: NP - Sydney Anderson. S - Deleaney Shinn.