The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Sports

July 7, 2012

Rebels’ run ends vs. No. 1

Solon beats Northeast in regional semis

SOLON — Northeast got off to a good start against the top-ranked team in Class 3A on Friday in a softball regional semifinal.

Things went downhill from there. Solon scored two runs in the bottom of the first on its way to an 11-1, five-inning win.

Aleenah Marcucci led off the game with a single for the Rebels. Solon's defense was pulled in to combat her bunting, and Marcucci ripped a line drive off the third baseman.

Northeast (26-11) managed four hits against Solon pitcher Arran Weeces, and Marcucci had two of them.

She advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt but was thrown out at third trying to advance on a ground ball hit by Carlie Dever. That ended the Rebels' threat in the first.

Solon (34-6) started well offensively to change the game's complexion.

"It was disappointing in how we came out and started the game," Northeast coach Travis Eversmeyer said. "We gave them some momentum right away when we didn't make routine plays."

Emily Bransky led off Solon's half of the first by drawing a walk.

Northeast had its defense drawn in to guard against the bunt, so when Bransky took off for second, center fielder Morgan McAleer was there to cover.

The throw from catcher Baylie Parson got past McAleer and into the outfield. Bransky stole second and raced around to score on the error, giving the Spartans an early 1-0 lead.

After an out, Solon loaded the bases on two hits and a walk. Casey Musgrave hit a bloop single that scored one run.

Northeast pitcher Maddison Daniels stopped the first inning from being a lot worse. The next batter flew out to shallow center, and Daniels struck out Weeces to leave the bases loaded.

"We talk about that all the time, trying to eliminate big innings by keeping runners at bay," Eversmeyer said. "She did a good job of coming out of that one. I wouldn't say it was her best performance of the year, but she's been solid all season for us. (Friday) she fell behind some batters, and a good team like that is going to punish the ball."

The Spartans showed why many think they're the best team in 3A, coming right back to score four runs in the next inning.

"Solon is No. 1 for a reason," Eversmeyer said. "They made us pay right away, and they continued to put pressure on us the entire game. (Friday) they looked like the best team in the state."

After an out to start the second inning, Bransky drew another walk, starting a string of four consecutive baserunners.

After a single, Taylor Nearad hit a two-run double and was knocked in by a Kara Misel single. Musgrave added another RBI single to put Solon ahead 6-0.

"Any time you can jump ahead like that you can become more of a free swinger," Eversmeyer said. "You don't have to play with pressure. ... Solon did a nice job of capitalizing."

Solon kept pushing its advantage with three more runs in the third, including a solo home run by Misel and a run-scoring triple by Alyssa Rickels, to build the lead to 9-0.

"It definitely helps a lot," Weeces said of her team's offensive production. "My team has been doing that a lot this year, and it really helps me relax in the circle."

The Spartans added two unearned runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 10-run lead, allowing them to finish the game in five innings.

In the top of the fourth, someone other than Marcucci figured out Weeces for the Rebels.

Sammi Farrell led off the inning with a double to left field. After Weeces recorded two of her four strikeouts, it looked as if Farrell would be stranded there.

But Brooke Puckett had other ideas; she hit a single that hopped to the fence in left field, scoring Farrell to put Northeast on the board.

Weeces struck out five and allowed only five baserunners. Weeces said she had a tendency to overthink in the circle, which could be a problem for her.

"I have to let it go and just throw it," Weeces said, which is what she did against the Rebels.

"She moves the ball well," Eversmeyer said. "She's got mediocre speed, but she does mix her rise ball, drop ball and curveball very well. We just kind of struggled a little bit. We didn't it hit the way we normally do.

"Another thing Solon did well is jump out ahead of us, so we couldn't play small ball."

Weeces said after a scare in their first postseason game — a 7-6, nine-inning win over Mount Vernon — the Spartans had a new mindset.

"That was definitely an eye-opener for us," she said. "We knew we had to come out hard. Score first, score often was what we kept saying, and we did that."

The loss marked the end of the Northeast softball careers of Farrell, Puckett and Carlie Dever.

"They're come full circle," Eversmeyer said. "They finished second-to-last their eighth-grade year in conference. All three of them were dressing varsity. Their leadership in pulling the eighth- and ninth-graders along and keeping them involved is something I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life. They're three class-act girls that our program is going to dearly miss."

But Solon continues on and will host the Class 3A Region 5 final Monday as it draws close to a berth at the state tournament in Fort Dodge.

"There's no pressure at all, actually," Weeces said. "We haven't talked about that; we never talk about that. We just play our game and it works for us."

SOLON 11, NORTHEAST 1 (5 INNINGS)

Northeast    000    10        —    1    4    3

Solon    243    2x        —    11    11    0

Maddison Daniels (4 ip, 11 h, 11 r, 9 er, 3 bb, 1 so) and Baylie Parson; Arran Weeces (5 ip, 4 h, 1 r, 1 er, 1 bb, 5 so) and Hannah Turkal. Multiple hits — Northeast (Aleenah Marcucci 2); Solon (Taylor Nearad 2, Kara Misel 3, Casey Musgrave 3, Alyssa Rickels 2). 2B — Northeast (Sammi Farrell); Solon (Misel, Nearad). 3B — Solon (Rickels). HR — Solon (Misel). RBIs — Northeast (Brooke Puckett); Solon (Nearad 3, Musgrave 2, Misel 2, Rickels, Rylee Smith).

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