Big fifth inning carries NP past B-F in regional semis

Story and photos by Joe RandlemanStaff Writer
Big fifth inning carries NP past B-F in regional semis

COLLINS - Great execution at the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning and strong pitching gave the North Polk softball team a 6-2 victory over Bondurant-Farrar in Class 3A regional semifinal play Friday at Collins.

The Comets trailed 2-1 going into the bottom of the fifth. With the game getting into crunch time, they needed a big boost and it came from the bottom of the order.

Audrey Ley - a senior and productive No. 9 hitter for North Polk - stepped to the plate with one out in the bottom of the fifth. Ley ripped a double to center field and suddenly the floodgates opened up as the Comets put up five runs in the inning.

“I knew it could possibly be my last game, so I knew I had to stand up and be a leader,” Ley said. “I did my job, I think.”

Ellie Owen followed with a single to put runners on the corners. Becca Ley then executed a perfect bunt to score her sister and tie the game.

Rebecca Rimathe stepped into the batter’s box with runners still on the corners and one out. With 10 doubles and six home runs on the season, it figured Rimathe was going to swing away, but instead she laid a perfect bunt down the first-base line.

Ley avoided a diving tag attempt by the Bluejay first baseman to reach safely and drive in the go-ahead run.

“It was fun throwing something new at them to catch them off guard,” Rimathe said. “We worked a lot in practice on (bunting) and the people just came through and we all supported each other to get the win.”

Carolyn Steffen followed Rimathe with an RBI single. The final two Comet runs of the inning came courtesy of a Bondurant-Farrar error off a ball hit by Maddy Hill.

Comet pitcher Sophie Swygman gave up a two-run homer to Bondurant-Farrar’s Sydney Carroll in the top of the fourth inning. After that Swygman was outstanding - retiring the Bluejays in order over each of the final three innings to clinch the victory.

Swygman ended up throwing a three-hitter. She struck out four and walked only one.

On offense Rimathe was 2-for-3 with a run and two RBI. Owen was 2-for-2 with a double and two runs, Steffen went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI, Becca Ley was 1-for-2 with one run and RBI apiece and Audrey ended up 1-for-2 with a run.

The win put North Polk at 21-12.

Bondurant-Farrar finished the season at 6-28. The Bluejays’ final record was deceiving as they play in a Raccoon River Conference, which features the top three rated teams in 4A.

Kenzie Peters was 2-for-3 with a double to collect the only Bluejay hits off Swygman besides Carroll’s home run. Hope Holzworth gave up six earned runs on eight hits with two strikeouts and no walks in 4 ? innings to take the loss for Bondurant-Farrar.

North Polk 6, Bondurant-Farrar 2

BF 000 200 0 - 2 3 1

NP 001 050 X - 6 8 0

BF: Hope Holzworth, Erin Handley (5) and Kenzie Adkins.

NP: Sophie Swygman and Trisha Sporra.

WP: Swygman.

LP: Holzworth.

2B: BF - Kenzie Peters. NP - Ellie Owen, Audrey Ley.

HR: BF - Sydney Carroll.

ALLEMAN - A big sixth inning paid off for North Polk in the 3A regional quarterfinals versus Chariton July 6 as the Comets held off a late Charger rally for a 7-4 victory at Alleman.

North Polk led 3-1 going into the bottom of the sixth. The Comets then put four runs on the board in the inning to take a convincing 7-1 lead, which proved more than enough for pitcher Sophie Swygman, despite a late scare.

After North Polk loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth, Swygman and Ellie Owen each drove in a run after drawing a walk and Becca Ley followed with an RBI off a fielder’s choice. Then Rebecca Rimathe knocked in the final run of the inning, thanks to a Charger error.

“That felt really good,” Swygman said of the big inning. “It gave me a little more confidence going out there.”

North Polk was very opportunistic at the plate on the night. Its first two runs came without a hit in the bottom of the first after Ley and Rimathe both walked.

“Everyone contributes to the team,” Swygman said. “Everyone does their own part.”

The other Comet run came in the bottom of the fifth when Ley singled and Rimathe drove her home.

Chariton did make North Polk sweat it out in the top of the seventh. Avelina Popkov hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer that just cleared Ley’s glove in center field, Jessica Weiderholt followed with a double and Micaela Folkerts drove her home to pull Chariton to within three.

The Chargers had a runner on first with just one out, but Swygman fanned Carly Arnold on an outside pitch and forced Saydee Terrell to pop out to end the game.

“I wasn’t really too worried,” Swygman said. “I knew my team had my back.”

Swygman gave up four runs - just one earned - on eight hits with three strikeouts and no walks in seven innings to earn the victory. She overcame four North Polk errors and was backed up by a Comet offense that tallied six hits.

Ley went 2-for-3 with a run and a walk; Swygman was 1-for-1 with a double, two walks and an RBI; Hill was 1-for-2 with a run and a walk and Trisha Sporra went 1-for-3 with a run for North Polk. Owen walked and drove in a run, Rimathe walked and scored, Paige Sandberg singled once, Jenna Fagen scored twice and Bailey Hougham crossed the plate once.

Arnold was 2-for-4 with an RBI and Wiederholt finished 1-for-4 with two runs for Chariton on offense. Sophia DeMaria allowed seven earned runs with seven walks and one strikeout in six innings to take the loss for the Chargers, who ended the season at 11-18.

North Polk 7, Chariton 4

C 100 000 3 - 4 8 3

NP 200 014 X - 7 6 4

C: Sophia DeMaria and Saydee Terrell.

NP: Sophie Swygman and Trisha Sporra.

WP: Swygman.

LP: DeMaria.

2B: C - Jessica Weiderholt. NP - Swygman.

HR: C - Avelina Popkov.