The Ottumwa Courier

Sports

July 11, 2014

Rockets advance to regional finals

EDDYVILLE — It may have taken the Rockets a little longer than they would have liked, but the fifth-ranked Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont softball team eventually staved off a feisty effort by a gritty CMB team and picked up a 3-1 victory over the Raiders Friday in the Class 2A, Region 6 semifinals.

EBF used a two-run sixth inning and another terrific performance by Rocket ace Nataliah Hopkins to pick up the victory. Hopkins and and CMB's Heather Jessen were involved in a pitcher's duel early, as neither team was able to get a run across the plate until the top of the fourth inning. Despite the dearth of offense in the early innings, Hopkins was confident her team's offense would eventually break through.

"I wasn't really nervous," Hopkins said. "I knew that my team would pull through on hits. It always seems like in the last innings we always gets those good bunts down and get nice hits and score."

The Raiders, however, were the team that struck the first blow. Mikayla Eslinger ended the game's scoring drought with one swing of the bat that cleared the left center field fence to put the CMB up 1-0. Meanwhile, Jessen, only a freshman, was a paragon of efficiency in the first three innings, throwing only 30 pitches, including an incredible three-pitch first inning.

The Rockets finally got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth. Randie Richmond hit a fading line drive single to center field that crept underneath the glove of Raider center fielder Taylor Ross, allowing Richmond to hustle to third. She went on to score on a wild pitch to tie the game at 1-1.

Tasha Alexander blasted a scorching line drive triple to center fielder in the bottom of the sixth. Two batters later, Claire Jager laid down a perfect squeeze bunt that allowed Alexander to score from third to put the Rockets up 2-1. Jessens, further compounding CMB's troubles, made an errant throw that got past the Raiders' first baseman, allowing EBF's two other base runners to advance an extra base. This helped the Rockets eventually grow their lead 3-1 before the inning reached its conclusion.

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