Spartan freshman Tatum Grubbs slides into second base safely during Friday's 12-6 win over Glidden-Ralston.Lauren Hansen is safe at the plate for Exira-EHK. Spartan senior second baseman Bailey Robertson makes a throw to first. Spartan senior Grace Greving takes a pitch high. (Photos by Mike Oeffner)

Spartans avenge G-R, hit 1A regionals on a roll

 KIMBALLTON (June 29) -- With its 7-1 first-inning lead cut down to one run, the Exira-Elk Horn-Kimballton softball team responded with five runs during the fourth and fifth frames and finished off Glidden-Ralston 12-6 on Friday to avenge a 10-run loss earlier this season.
 The Spartans picked up two more home wins Saturday, beating Audubon 11-5 and Boyer Valley 3-2 to finish the regular season on a seven-game winning streak.
 Mollie Rasmussen, Tatum Grubbs and Alisa Partridge all had two hits and three RBI against G-R Friday and eighth-grader Macy Emgarten pitched better as the game went along.
 “Glidden is an excellent team and ... this was a huge win for us mentally,” said Exira-EHK head coach Jodee Dixon.
 The Spartans’ seven-run first inning set the tone as they mixed in four hits with four walks by G-R starting pitcher Talia Schon, who recorded only one out.
 Glidden-Ralston chipped away against Emgarten, scoring at least one run in each of the first four innings. The Wildcats had seven hits during that time but only three of the runs allowed by Emgarten were earned due to three Spartan errors.
 With the lead down to 7-6, Exira-EHK got some help from G-R’s defense as well, scoring two unearned runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth. Grubbs had a two-run single in one inning and an RBI infield hit the next. Rasmussen also came up big, following an intentional walk to Sophia Peppers with a two-run double to right-center.
 Peppers led the team with three runs scored while Greving finished 2-for-4 with two runs and one RBI.
 Glidden-Ralston, which won at West Harrison 7-5 before traveling to Kimballton Friday, was led by two hits each from Schon (3 runs), Schlabach (double, triple) and Gretchen Wallace. The Wildcats dropped to 16-8 overall and 10-3 in the Rolling Valley Conference.
Regionals underway:
 Following Saturday’s two victories, the Spartans finished regular season play with marks of 12-8 and 11-4, respectively. They were slated to host Southwest Valley (6-18) in a first-round Class 1A regional game Monday in Kimballton. The winner will play at Grand View Christian (16-10) on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.
Senior Night:
 Friday also marked Senior Night for five Spartan players who were recognized prior to the game: Kealey Nelson, Bailey Robertson, Sophia Peppers, Grace Greving and Michaela Hartvigsen.
 During the previous four years, this senior class has been part of teams that advanced to a pair of regional finals and two regional semifinals as well.

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