South Hardin looks to Lake to finish Falcons

ELDORA – The Tiger bats made plenty of noise Tuesday but South Hardin’s best barometer for success rides on the righty in the circle.

Keeping Aplington-Parkersburg in check all night before receiving some run support late, South Hardin’s Alaina Lake twirled a three-hit shutout and fanned 11 as the Tigers topped the Falcons 10-0 in a Class 2A Region 3 first-round game.

“We go the way Alaina Lake goes and she’s been really solid for about 2 to 2 1/2 weeks now,” Tigers coach Dave Donahue said. “I don’t think we saw her best stuff, she was about 75 to 80 percent tonight. When she gets her changeup over, we’re going to look really good. … We’re going to go the way she goes.”

The Tigers (8-18) took advantage of seven A-P errors to score three runs in both the fifth and seventh frames along with four in the sixth. South Hardin takes on eighth-ranked Central Springs (24-4) tonight in a regional quarterfinal at 7 p.m. in Manly.

Hope Van Zante and Lake each legged out singles in the top of the fifth, before Jenny Allen reached on an error to plate the first run. Mikayla Fisher followed with a two-run double to left field to give the visitors on the scoreboard a 3-0 lead.

Shannon Teske singled to lead off the sixth and scored on Michaela Friest’s bloop single before a wide throw allowed another run across. Lake added an RBI double to left field and Allen reached again on an error to stretch the gap to 7-0.

Teske hit 2-for-3 and connected for a triple to right to begin the seventh before reaching home one pitch later on a passed ball. Rachel Mildenhall walked and Cora Spainhower reached on an error before two runs scored when Friest made it to first on the Falcons’ third miscue of the inning.

The Falcons (6-22) came in having won three of its last five but lost by double digits for the 10th time this season. Donahue pointed to the stiff competition of the North Iowa Cedar League West Division in prepping his team to not take any opponent lightly.

“This conference allows us to be ready for these kinds of games,” Donahue said. “We don’t care if A-P won 20 or three games, we know that we can’t take anybody for granted and we just have to go out and play ball. We started out a little slow, but we haven’t played a game in five days so we knew we were going to be a little rusty.”

South Hardin committed an error in both the first and second innings though the Falcons squandered both opportunities stranding a pair of runners in scoring position. A-P left six runners on base in the game and didn’t have another runner reach second until the seventh.

Natalee Morris was thrown out by Allen at second in the fourth and the Tigers turned a double play in the sixth on Morris’ lineout before retiring Raechel Campbell at first. Bradi Yost took the loss allowing 10 runs (five earned) on eight hits with three strikeouts and four walks over seven innings.

Getting out of the gates slowly against Central Springs won’t be an option for the Tigers, who will have to be on top of their game defensively.

“If we start out slow we’re going to get beat because they’re probably a team that’s well coached, well disciplined and they’re going to put the ball in play on us and that’s what we did to A-P,” Donahue said. “You put the ball in play on teams like that and when you do, you’re going to get a chance to stay in the game.”

Notebook

Central Springs has won its last six games by shutout with a combined score of 61-0. The Tigers have won two straight to rebound from a six-game skid. … Tonight’s winner advances to play either North Butler or Dike-New Hartford in a regional semifinal Friday at 7 p.m. in Manly.