PIERCE — West Point Guardian Angels Central Catholic used a pair of huge innings to turn back a stubborn Albion Boone Central team 11-5 in the C-5 district final here Saturday to claim a ticket for the 2019 Class C state tournament later this week in Hastings.
The Cardinals overcame back-to-back home runs from the Bluejays in the third inning to tie the score, but GACC responded with a big sixth inning to get the win.
“We knew this was going to be more than difficult,” Bluejay coach Alan Kreikemeier said. “I think our experience in these games maybe helped us move on.”
Boone Central grabbed a lead in the second inning when Mattie Young walked and traveled around the bases on a double by Leighann Miller on an 0-2 count.
“I couldn’t have asked more from these girls today or this season,” Boone Central coach Jeff Hrabik said. “We played very well and just came up short.”
The Bluejays wasted little time in responding to the Boone Central lead, scoring three runs in the top of the third on the back-to-back homers.
Brenna Reif got aboard with a walk before Kate Gnad stepped up and lifted a hit over the outfield fence to make it 2-1.
Marissa Hunke came to the plate next and slapped another one over the outfield wall to make it 3-1.
Boone Central plated three in the bottom of the frame, as Lauren Hedlund opened the Cardinal half of the inning with a single.
Claire Choat spanked another single, and after a groundout to shortstop plated Hedlund, Choat scored on a single from Ashtyn Hedlund.
Brooke Groth stepped to the plate and smashed a double to score Ashtyn Hedlund and Boone Central was back in the lead 4-3.
“We really got some good pitching and for the most part hit the ball when we needed,” Hrabik said. “But they just kept coming back and eventually we didn’t get the job done.”
Neither team scored in the fourth and GACC added a run in the top of the fifth when Jenna Schinstock hit another long ball with two outs.
“It seemed like we did what we needed to do during this entire tournament,” Kreikemeier said. “We decided to change pitchers — we have the luxury of having three quality pitchers we’re comfortable to throw at anytime.”
The Bluejays inserted Erin Franzluebbers, and she shut down Boone Central from the fourth inning on.
“I’m so excited for us,” Franzluebbers said. “I am always ready to help out and help us win — and we did, so I’m so excited.”
Franzluebbers has big plans for her team.
“It’s time we go down to Hastings and win the whole thing,” she said. “That would be great.”
Five singles in the sixth scored five runs for the Bluejays to put the game out of reach, but an Ashtyn Hedlund home run in the seventh ended the scoring for the evening.
“We were kind of young when we went to state last year,” Kreikemeier said. “We have three solid pitchers and experience — we think we can make some things happen down there this year. We’ll see what happens.”
A-BC (18-14) 013 000 1 — 5 6 2
GACC (25-3) 003 005 2 — 11 12 1
WP: Erin Franzluebbers LP: Ashtyn Hedlund.
2B: Brooke Groth; Leighan Miller (BC). HR: Ashtyn Hedlund (BC); Marissa Hunke, Kate Gnad, Jenna Schinstock (BC).