Softball: HCHS tops Lynx 11-1

 HARLAN (June 23) -- The Harlan Community softball team took a five-game winning streak into Thursday’s showdown at Atlantic following Wednesday night’s 11-1, five-inning home win over Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln.
 The Cyclones used a five-run third inning and a three-run fourth to lead 10-1, then finished the game by the rule an inning later on Ella Plagman’s bases-loaded, two-out RBI single.
 Senior Madison Schumacher had a big night at the plate with three singles and four RBI while junior Tianna Kasperbauer (10-1) pitched an abbreviated one-hitter with nine strikeouts and one walk.
 HCHS reached the 20-win mark for the year (20-8 overall) and went into Thursday’s Atlantic contest at 12-2 in the Hawkeye Ten - just a game behind the Trojans (14-1) in the loss column.
 “I think we got hits almost up and down the lineup tonight and that’s exactly what we needed - just that little confidence builder,” said HCHS head coach Toshia Kasperbauer. “Sometimes you have those games and you’ve just got to take advantage of them... This was good for our confidence at the plate.”
 Facing a 12-11 Lynx team that is currently depleted by injuries, the Cyclones took care of business with 10 total hits while receiving 12 free passes via nine walks and three hit batters.
 Nine of the 10 hits came from the 5-through-9 spots in the lineup and Schumacher led the way from the seven hole. After driving in a run with an infield hit in the second, she connected for a two-run single up the middle in the third and a sharp RBI single to left in the fourth.
 Coach Kasperbauer liked the way Schumacher swung the bat her last two times up after noticing a somewhat tentative swing in her first at-bat.
 “She came through. Instead of just trying to make that contact, she was swinging the bat hard and then the ball (was hit) hard and it obviously went farther,” stated Kasperbauer. “She was needing that.”
 Lynx starting pitcher Holly Hansen, who was operating at far less than 100 percent, began fighting her control in the third and issued six walks in the inning before being relieved by Tessa Clifton. Hansen allowed five hits, seven walks and seven runs in two and two-thirds innings.
 The Cyclones got consecutive RBI singles from Schumacher, Plagman and Kennedy Kjergaard in the fourth and ended the game in the fifth.
 Plagman finished 2-for-2 with a walk, Emily Brouse was 2-for-3 and Jordan Heese and Aurora Miller (one double) both scored three runs. Heese did not have an official at-bat on the night, drawing three walks and an HBP, but did have the hardest-hit ball on a home-run distance foul ball down the left field line.
 Tianna Kasperbauer had a good night in the pitching circle, relying on an improved riseball and her changeup to strike out more than half the batters she faced. The only hit she allowed was a solidly-struck single by Hutson Rau leading off the third.
 “Her riseball has been working for her and that’s what she was confident with tonight,” added Coach Kasperbauer.
 Thursday’s game at Atlantic was set to mark the Cyclones’ 14th game during a rugged 11-day stretch. The Trojans won in Harlan 11-7 in a wild nine-inning conference game June 8 and also beat HCHS 12-0 at the Fort Dodge Tournament last Friday.
 The Cyclones were aiming to force a tie atop the Hawkeye Ten standings with a victory.
 “We are going into a big game, and our conversation (Wednesday night) was, ‘This is game number 14 in 11 days for us, but we’ve got to go in and we’ve got to treat it as this is the first game on our number one day,’” Kasperbauer said.
 “This is the last time we’ll see them this year... so we’re going to do what we need to do and play around a little bit on the mound and hopefully come out with a W.”

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