Nathan Broek | Sports Editor
Western Christian 0-0-0-1-0-0-4 5
Cherokee 0-0-0-0-0-1-1 2
CHEROKEE-It was a pitchers’ duel between Alyssa Buren of Western Christian and Lindsay Williams of Cherokee for the final Lakes Conference softball game of the season Monday, July 2, but Buren helped her own cause by hitting a grand slam home run in the top of the seventh inning to seal a 5-2 victory.
The Wolfpack scored one run in the top of the fourth, but the Braves came back to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth with a single run before Buren hit her grand slam.
“Well-played game by both teams. I thought both pitchers threw well and the defenses made the plays. Offense was hard to come by for both teams. We were fortunate to get a run in the fourth inning on a passed ball,” said Western Christian coach Michael De Jong. “We also had the bases loaded in the fifth with one out and Cherokee was able to get out of it with two strikeouts.
De Jong was pleased to see Buren hit her grand slam when she did. Her final line in the pitcher’s circle was all seven innings of work with five hits, two runs of which one was earned, five walks and five strikeouts.
“Happy for Alyssa. She threw the ball well and was deserving of a ‘W.’ She had been struggling at the plate up until that at-bat. She made an adjustment on the 2-2 count and I think the pitcher missed her spot a little and she (Buren) was able to capitalize and give us some breathing room going into the (bottom of) the seventh inning,” De Jong said.
The final offensive numbers had Chandler Schemper with one walk and a run. Tori Wynja had one hit, one run and one RBI. Brooklyn Van Oort had one hit and one run. Kayla Zevenbergen had two hits and one run.
“Good game for us heading into regionals. We had to use all aspects of our game to get this win and were able to do so,” De Jong said. “Proud of the girls for bouncing back mentally after losing a tough game last game against Spirit Lake. We seemed more relaxed and played our style of softball. We didn’t try to do too much. The girls are feeling pretty good going into regional (tournament play).”
Western punches back in the seventh
Western Christian 0-0-1-0-0-1-3 5
South O’Brien 4-0-0-0-0-0-0 4
PAULLINA-Western Christian had a rough first inning in its Class 2A Region 1 tournament game with South O’Brien in Paullina Tuesday, July 3, but the Wolfpack quickly put that first inning behind them and rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh to claim a 5-4 win.
The Wolverines scored four runs in the bottom of the first. The first run was scored on a sacrifice fly ball, the second was scored on a squeeze bunt, the third was scored on a one-run single with the final run of the frame being scored on a wild pitch.
“We anticipated them getting on base and doing small ball. That’s exactly what they did, but we just made a few mental mistakes. We just weren’t as ready right away as we should have been. We just weren’t sharp to begin with,” said Western Christian coach Michael De Jong.
But starting pitcher Alyssa Buren settled down in the pitcher’s circle the rest of the way, not allowing South O’Brien to score any more runs while letting the offense chip away at the deficit. In the top of the third, Chandler Schemper launched a solo home run over the left centerfield wall. The Wolfpack added another run in the top of the sixth as Madison Byl ripped a one-run single before a three-run rally in the top of the seventh.
With two out, Western Christian loaded the bases with Buren at the plate. Buren promptly hit a soft liner that fell into open grass in the outfield behind the short stop and in front of the center fielder to score two runs and tie the game. The tie only lasted for a couple pitches as Brooklyn Van Oort scored what was the game-winning run on a wild pitch. The Wolverines did have a threat with runners at second and first with two outs, but the final out was recorded on runner’s interference.
“The key is we didn’t quit. We kept battling and these girls will fight. They will not quit and they proved it tonight,” De Jong said.
Buren’s final pitching line was seven innings of work with four hits, four runs that were both earned, five walks and seven strikeouts. At the plate, she had two hits with two RBIs.
The final offensive numbers for the rest of the Western Christian hitters had Schemper with two hits, one run and one RBI. Tori Wynja had two hits and one run. Van Oort had two hits and two runs. Byl had two hits and one RBI. Kayla Zevenbergen had one hit and one run.
The Wolfpack advanced to round three of the regional tournament Friday against Class 2A 12th-ranked West Sioux. The last time these two teams squared off against each other was in the West Lyon tournament and the Falcons came away with a 4-2 victory.
Western shocks 12th-ranked West Sioux 6-4
Western Christian 0-0-1-3-1-0-1 6
West Sioux 0-0-3-0-0-1 4
IRETON-Western Christian has had a “never quit” attitude for much of the second half of the 2018 softball season. That attitude was on display as the Wolfpack shocked Class 2A 12th-ranked West Sioux 6-4 in the Class 2A Region 1 semi-final tournament game Friday, July 6.
Western Christian was first to get on the scoreboard with a single run in the top of the third. The Falcons came right back in the bottom half with three runs all off three-straight one-run singles.
But Wolfpack starting pitcher, Alyssa Buren, settled down after that, only allowing a single run in the bottom of the seventh. Her final line was seven innings of work with six hits, four runs of which three were earned, seven walks and two strikeouts.
“I thought she threw well. She battled all night,” said Western Christian coach Michael De Jong. “She ran into a little bit of trouble in the third inning. The bottom of the order got on base for the top of the order and they hit three singles in a row. She just got into a little bit of a situation where she got behind in the count and had to throw strikes where she typically doesn’t want to and they made her pay for it. But we made adjustments as the game went on.”
Western Christian also picked its pitcher back up in the top of the fourth stanza with three runs to retake the lead. Madison Vis hit a one-run single. Madison Byl came around to score the inning’s second run on an error by the Flacons’ third baseman and Kailey Heemskerk drove in the stanza’s final run on a single.
The Wolfpack added another single run in the top of the fifth and one insurance run in the top of the seventh off a solo home run by Buren to help seal the victory.
“We told the girls going into the seventh inning ‘give me one run.’ A three-run lead versus two to me is big. An extra insurance run is big,” De Jong said. “That’s what we did and it was nice to get one additional insurance run. Alyssa made an adjustment and put a good swing on it to give us a little lift.”
The final offensive numbers for the Wolfpack had Chandler Schemper with one RBI. Tori Wynja had one walk and one run. Brooklyn Van Oort had one run. Buren had three hits, one run and two RBIs. Byl had one run. Madison Vis had one hit, one run and one RBI. Heemskerk had two hits, one run and one RBI. Sydney Stiemsma had one hit. Kayla Zevenbergen had one hit and one walk. Emilee Heynen had one run.
The Wolfpack advanced to the regional final against fifth-ranked Alta-Aurelia in Alta Monday, July 9.