SWEA CITY - Iowa Class 2A, No. 1-ranked North Union needed two innings to find its rhythm inside the batter's box during Wednesday night's Region 2 softball quarterfinal in Swea City.
The Warriors' lethal lumber erupted for eight runs on eight hits in the bottom of the third inning - including six for RBIs with two out - to leash the upset-minded Lake Mills Bulldogs, 12-2 in five frames.
North Union (32-2) advances to face West Hancock at 7 p.m. Friday night in the regional semifinals in Swea City. West Hancock reached the next round via a 6-4 quarterfinal triumph over Eagle Grove.
SWEEPING TAG — North Union third baseman Dena Looft (left) makes a sweeping tag to record an out on Lake Mills runner Sarah Orban during Iowa Class 2A, Region 2 quarterfinal softball playoff action on Wednesday night in Swea City. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Lake Mills ended its season with a 14-15 record.
"We just needed to forget about what happened last season against this team," Warrior mentor Art Ingalls said in reference to the Bulldogs' 9-7 upset win over top-ranked North Union during the 2012 regional semifinals. "I figured our hitting would come around tonight - it just was a matter of getting the at-bats."
Tied at 2-all after two completed innings, Warrior senior ace right-hander Allie Ingalls notched two of her five strikeouts on the postseason clash to extinguish the Bulldogs' hopes via a quick 1-2-3 top of the third.
Ironically, North Union's potent batting order did not shift into high gear until it held a 4-2 lead with two outs during the last of the third.
Autumn Boland served as the green-and-black roster's catalyst by reaching on a one-out error, took second base on Collete Haag's single and scored on Dena Looft's RBI single to left.
Haag, who had reached third on an outfield throwing error on the previous play, then tagged and crossed the plate on Sarah Rolling's sacrifice fly to center to double North Union's edge to 4-2.
Sara Johnson, Jasmine Clausen, Peyton Oleson and Allie Ingalls then reeled off four consecutive RBI singles with two out to widen the gap to 8-2.
Ingalls, who went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles to raise her batting average to an incredible .500, then scampered around the bases for one of her three runs scored when Cheyanne Boland blasted an RBI triple into the right-field corner.
Courtesy runner Kyarsten Mullen then delivered the Warriors' eighth and final run of the third-inning avalanche by trotting home on Autumn Boland's RBI single to left.
Holding a commanding 10-2 lead, Ingalls faced only nine Bulldog batters over the final two frames to give the home team a legitimate chance to exit the ballpark via the 10-run rule during the last of the fifth.
Oleson pounded a one-out single to set the table for the game-winning surge in the North Union fifth at-bat before Taylor Mathine took her place on the base paths.
Mathine wheeled to third on Ingalls' line-drive double to the right-center gap before Cheyanne Boland drilled an RBI single to left. Ingalls then utilized her celerity to beat the throw to the plate on Autumn Boland's game-winning RBI fielder's choice to first base.
Ingalls jumpstarted the Warriors' offense during the bottom of the first frame, hammering a towering leadoff double before eventually scoring when Cheyanne Boland's grounder was misplayed. Mullen, who was courtesy running for Boland, later scored on the heels of Autumn Boland's single and Sarah Rolling's RBI hit.
Lake Mills capitalized on a North Union error, combined with a rare walk and RBI hits by Katlyn Eidness and Kelcey Srp, to manufacture two runs during the top of the second to knot the game at 2-all.
Ingalls allowed two runs - both unearned - on four hits, struck out five and issued two bases-on-balls in five innings of work to earn the complete-game victory for the Warriors.
Freshman right-hander Emily Orban gave up 12 runs on 14 hits, struck out three and did not issue a walk in 4 1/3 innings to take the loss for the Bulldogs.
Cheyanne Boland, Autumn Boland and Olesen each generated two hits for North Union
Lake Mills 020 00 - 2 4 4
No. Union 208 02 - 12 14 3
Winning run scored with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Emily Orban (LP) and Kelcey Srp. Allie Ingalls (WP, 21-1) and Cheyanne Boland.
LOB-North Union 5; Lake Mills 6. 2B-Ingalls (NU) 2. 3B-C. Boland (NU). SF-Sarah Rolling (NU).