Spartans down Hawkeyes, advance to Region 2 final

Exira-EHK faced No. 2 Newell-Fonda July 20

 KIMBALLTON (July 17) -- The Exira-Elk Horn-Kimballton softball team earned another crack at Newell-Fonda here Friday, moving within one game of the state tournament with a 6-2, Class 1A regional semifinal win over West Harrison.
 The 9th-ranked Spartans took control with a five-run third inning and got a four-hitter and 13 strikeouts from ace pitcher Macy Emgarten, improving their unbeaten record to 15-0.
 They advanced to Monday night’s Region 2 final at 2nd-ranked Newell-Fonda (17-2). Exira-EHK is looking to avenge last year’s 8-1 regional semifinal loss to the Mustangs.
 “The girls are excited for another shot at Newell-Fonda,” said first-year E-EHK head coach Andrea Nulle, an assistant on last season’s staff. “Last year they realized what needed to be done in order to get to that next level and they put in a lot of work this offseason to get there. If we play the way we are capable of playing we will have a shot."
 Friday’s semifinal was shaping up as a pitchers’ duel between Emgarten and West Harrison’s Emily McIntosh through two scoreless innings. The bottom of the third changed everything, however, as the Spartans plated five runs on three hits and the aid of three Hawkeye errors.
 Hannah Nelson’s leadoff walk got things going and Makenzie Riley and Alisa Partridge both singled to load the bases with one out. Quinn Grubbs then hit a grounder to the second baseman that was bobbled for an error, then thrown wildly to let a second run score.
 Kami Waymire followed with a two-run double to the center field fence and she scored on another error to make it 5-0.
 That was more than enough support for Emgarten (15-0), who retired 12 straight batters during one dominant stretch and issued just one walk to go along with her 13 Ks.
 Sabrina Rife scored West Harrison’s first run on a throwing error in the fifth and Lanie Gustafson belted a solo homer in the seventh. The Hawkeyes finished 13-7 overall.
 Shay Burmeister had a two-hit night for Exira-EHK, Lexi Madsen tripled and Tatum Grubbs added a single to round out the team’s eight-hit attack.

Class 1A, Region 2 Softball Tourney
Regional Semifinal Scores: Friday, July 17
Newell-Fonda 8, Audubon 1        Exira-EHK 6, West Harrison 2
Regional Final: Monday, July 20
#9 Exira-EHK (15-0) at #2 Newell-Fonda (17-2), 7:00 p.m.

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