GOOSE LAKE — The close score was a true indicator that Monday’s Class 2A district softball opener between Northeast and North Cedar could have gone either way.

Unfortunately for the host Rebels, it went North Cedar’s way in the end.

The Knights used a pair of big innings to squeak by Northeast 8-7, advancing to tonight’s district final at Durant.

“A lot of things could have gone either way that could have swayed the outcome one way or the other,” said Northeast coach Troy Dodd. “But I credit both teams — they battled hard and it was a great game.”

North Cedar (15-28) shot out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, only to see Northeast answer with four runs in the second.

However, a four-run output in the third frame put the Knights ahead to stay.

“Once we got the first-inning jitters out of the way, we settled in and did a good job,” said Dodd. “It took us a bit to get to their pitcher, but after a while we began hitting her.”

North Cedar’s first-inning outburst came with the aid of two errors by Northeast (8-24). Lindsey O’Neal had a key RBI single in the frame.

Errors — four to be exact — also helped the Rebels in the top of the second as they batted around.

Jessica Lippens led off with a walk and Amber Lorenzen reached on a bad throw to first by the pitcher, putting runners on the corners.

After a strikeout, Megan Marlowe reached when the shortstop threw high to first which allowed Lippens to score.

Whitney Rorah then singled to load the bases before Paige Seeser was hit by a pitch to force in a run, making it 3-2.

Audrey Moehr reached on an error that sent two more runners across the plate to give Northeast the lead.

After going scoreless in the bottom of the second, North Cedar went to work in the third. The Knights pounded out four hits in the inning, including an opposite-field solo homer to right field by Kori Jackson.

Ashley Hines and Heidi Scott added RBI singles in the frame as the visitors went ahead 7-4.

Northeast came within a run by scoring twice in the fourth.

Rorah led off with a single to left and stole second.

She scored when Moehr singled and the ball got by the outfielder.

Moehr went to second on the throw home, took third on Melissa Spain’s groundout and scored when Danika Loots drilled a triple to the gap in right-center.

North Cedar gave itself some cushion with a run in the bottom of the fourth, making it 8-6.

The Rebels loaded the bases in the fifth but couldn’t score before tallying one run in the sixth.

Loots led off with a single to right, moved to second on a wild pitch, took third on Lippens’ flyout to right and came across the plate when Stacey Voss reached on an infield single.

That was all for Northeast, though, as relief pitcher Steph Russell sat the hosts down 1-2-3 in the seventh to secure the win.

“The one thing about this team is they fought hard and never gave up,” said Dodd. “That’s how they’ve been all year. It was a good game all-around, especially considering we lost to North Cedar 10-5 during the regular season.”

Dodd noted the contributions of the team’s three outgoing seniors — Lippens, Spain and Julie Krogman.

“Jessica Lippens, in my opinion, is one of the best third base I’ve seen play at this level,” he said. “Julie Krogman has a great arm in center field and Melissa Spain is just an all-around excellent player.”

Score by Innings

Northeast 040 201 0 —7 7 4

North Cedar 304 100 x —8 9 5

Audrey Moehr and Danika Loots. Lindsey O’Neal, Steph Russell (6) and Jess Edler.

Two or more hits—Northeast, Loots, Whitney Rorah; North Cedar, Russell 3, Kori Jackson, O’Neal. 2B—North Cedar, Russell, O‚Neal. 3B—Northeast, Loots. HR—North Cedar, Jackson. RBI—Northeast, Moehr, Loots, Stacey Voss, Megan Marlowe, Paige Seeser; North Cedar, Jackson, Lilly Petersen, O’Neal, Ashley Hines, Heidi Scott.

Records—Northeast 8-24, North Cedar 15-28. Next game—North Cedar at Durant (Iowa Class 2A district championship), 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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