Cyclone softball gets their shot at No. 1 Carlisle

Big third inning lifts HCHS past Lewis Central 6-1, setting up regional final against Wildcats

 HARLAN (July 18) -- So often in high school softball, the final outcome is determined by one big (or bad) inning for one side or the other. On Saturday night that key inning was the bottom of the third for Harlan Community.
 Plating five runs on just one hit, the Cyclones gave Lewis Central fits with the bunt game, took a 5-0 lead and cruised past the Titans 6-1 in a Class 4A, Region 4 semifinal at H. Jack Field.
 HCHS finished the game with just three singles but took advantage of five LC errors (four in the pivotal third frame) and played error-free defense behind pitchers Emily Brouse and Tianna Kasperbauer, who combined to strike out 12 Titans.
 The 14th-ranked Cyclones (15-4) will now travel to face top-ranked Carlisle (17-3) in a regional final Tuesday (July 21).
 “We should have been able to hit better this game, but our goal is to play a solid game against Carlisle. We’re pretty excited,” Brouse said.
 The Cyclones' big third inning began with an error when Kennedy Kjergaard’s pop fly was dropped in short right field. Then the bunting barrage ensued.
 Aurora Miller’s sacrifice bunt was fielded but thrown wildly down the right field line, allowing Kjergaard to score all the way from first with a dive into home plate.
 After Julia Schechinger coaxed a walk, Ellie Ineson’s bunt hung in the air near the foul line and went for an RBI single when catcher Taylor Elam and pitcher Megan Gittins collided trying to make the catch.
 Kate Heithoff’s sac bunt drove in Schechinger and she reached safely when a low throw was dropped at first base. The Titans actually recorded an out on Brouse’s RBI sac bunt, but a throwing error allowed Heithoff to score the fifth run of the inning.
 Kasperbauer gave her team credit for getting the bunts down and making LC make plays. “The girls have done a nice job of that all year,” she said. “That was our biggest focus in preseason is, ‘We’ve got to get the bunt down. That has got to be an automatic.'"
 HCHS added its final run in the fourth when Miller ripped a one-out single and later scored on an error by Gittins (11-8), who allowed three hits and no earned runs in six innings.
 The Titans, who finished 12-8, were led by leadoff batter Haley Bach’s 3-for-3, two-doubles night and Elam going 2-for-3 with a double and one RBI. Otherwise, the rest of LC’s lineup combined to go 0-for-19 with 12 Ks. Bach finished the season batting an incredible .615 (40-for-65).
 Brouse (9-3) pitched five scoreless inning for the win, allowing three hits while striking out seven. Kasperbauer gave up two hits and a run in two innings and struck out five. Neither girl walked a batter.

Class 4A, Region 4 Softball Tourney
First Round Scores: Thursday, July 16
Knoxville 1, Pella 0            Lewis Central 3, Glenwood 1
Regional Semifinal Scores: Saturday, July 18
Carlisle 11, Knoxville 2      Harlan Community 6, Lewis Central 1
Regional Final: Tuesday, July 21
#14 Harlan Community (15-4) at #1 Carlisle (17-3), 7:00 p.m.

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