Cyclones walk off a winner in softball thriller

Heese’s single caps eighth-inning rally as HCHS beats LC 2-1

 HARLAN (June 22) -- As the adversity started to ramp up in the late innings Tuesday, the Harlan Community softball team rallied together and rose to the occasion on Senior Night.
 Trailing Lewis Central 1-0 following Haley Bach’s impressive line-drive home run in the top of the eighth, the Cyclones scratched together four straight hits in the bottom of the extra frame and beat the Titans 2-1 on Jordan Heese’s bases-loaded RBI single over shortstop.
 HCHS completed a season sweep of Lewis Central and improved its Hawkeye Ten Conference record to 12-2. LC dropped to 7-7 in league play and 14-12 overall.
 “I was very proud of the girls that they came out there and didn’t give up,” said HCHS head coach Toshia Kasperbauer. “That was a shot of a home run [by Bach], but they were going to come out and chip away and we did. Unfortunately, we had to wait until the stinkin’ eighth inning to do it, but that just tells you that they didn’t give up and they were able to come back and do their job and (win) it in that eighth inning.”
 In a scorelss pitchers’ duel between Cyclone senior Emily Brouse and Titan eighth-grader Camdyn Damgaard, HCHS appeared poised to win in the bottom of the seventh after Heese drew a leadoff walk and Madison Schumacher reached safely on a sacrifice bunt when the ball was dropped at first base. A caught stealing at third changed the course of the inning, however, and Damgaard was able to retire the final two batters to extend the game.
 In the top of the eighth, Brouse struck out the Titans’ eight and nine-hole batters which brought up Bach, a .515 hitter with 19 extra-base hits. Brouse nearly retired Bach twice, but a pop fly in foul territory was dropped and a great two-strike pitch was ruled a ball. Given extra life, Bach drilled her fourth home run over the right-center field fence to put LC on top.
 According to Kasperbauer, the home plate umpire apologized after the half inning for not calling strike three on Bach.
 “You appreciate an umpire that is very up front,” she said. “He came over and said, ‘I’m sorry. That one’s on me. I missed that.’ But you know what? That just makes you more eager to kind of go out there and say, ‘OK, now we’ve got to take control.’”
 In the bottom of the eighth, Kate Heithoff got things started by reaching on an error and Tianna Kasperbauer’s fly ball down the right field line barely eluded the diving outfielder’s glove for a double. Julia Schechinger then tied the game with a two-strike RBI single up the middle and Brouse’s scratch hit loaded the bases for Heese, who delivered a sinking liner to left-center for the walk-off hit.
 Brouse allowed just four hits in her eight innings of work, walked two and struck out 12. Damgaard surrendered seven hits, walked three and struck out only one batter, but was effective.
 “We didn’t see (Damgaard) the first time (and) unfortunately we just couldn’t get her timed. We got out on that front foot,” Coach Kasperbauer noted. “We also had some hard hits that they made great plays (on), so I’ve got to give them credit.”
 Schechinger and Heese finished with two hits each for HCHS and drove in the team’s only runs. Avery Heller, Taylor Elam and Paige Rodewald added singles for LC.
 Prior to the game, Cyclone seniors Julia Schechinger, Miranda Goetz, Madison Schumacher, Emily Brouse and Kennedy Kjergaard were recognized on the field along with their parents for Senior Night.

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