POCAHONTAS, Iowa - Kyra Hoffman's timing proved impeccable for Ridge View during Monday night's Iowa Class 2A, Region 2 softball championship game in Pocahontas.
Hoffman alertly advanced to third base on a rare tag play during a foul popout near the first-base on-deck circle during the top of the fifth inning.
One out later, the fleet-footed Hoffman raced home on North Union's second error of the game to score the decisive run to engineer the Raptors' 2-1 upset victory over the No. 1-ranked Warriors.
PLAY AT THE PLATE — Ridge View catcher Dana Hustedt (left) prepares to catch the throw from Raptor pitcher Gretchen Kistenmacher (not shown) as North Union runner Sara Johnson sprints down the line during the Iowa Class 2A, Region 2 softball championship game on Monday night in Pocahontas, Iowa. Johnson was attempting to score on a suicide-squeeze bunt, but was called out on the play at the plate. North Union’s Cheyanne Boland (back right) watches the action. (Photo by Kjestine Steinbring)
Ridge View (30-11), a cooperative program consisting of Galva-Holstein and Schaller-Crestland, opens the Class 2A state quarterfinals at 5 p.m. next Monday against No. 6-ranked Fort Dodge St. Edmond (26-6) at Harlan Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
North Union ended its stellar summer season with a 33-3 record.
"I had planned on tagging on the popup, and if they (the Warrior fielders) didn't pay attention to me, I was going to third on the play," Hoffman said in reference to her pivotal baserunning gem.
Unfortunately for North Union senior ace right-hander Allie Ingalls, the Raptors' pair of unearned runs - including Dana Hustedt's solo tally in the top of the first - ended the perennial all-state softball selection's outstanding prep career one game shy of returning to the state tournament since North Sentral Kossuth's runner-up showing in the 2011 Class 1A showcase in Fort Dodge.
"It's a tough loss to take as both a coach and a dad, and I'll miss our seniors from this year's team," said Warrior mentor Art Ingalls.
Allie Ingalls allowed only three hits in seven solid innings of work, recording nine strikeouts, while issuing only one walk and hitting one batter in absorbing the tough loss in closing her senior pitching season with an impressive 22-2 record.
Unfortunately for Ingalls and North Union, Hoffman's prowess on the base paths was not the only perfect timing executed by Ridge View.
After Sarah Rolling, the Warriors' No. 6 batter, smashed a game-tying solo home run to lead off the bottom of the fourth, teammates Sara Johnson and Peyton Oleson each singled to bookend Jasmine Clausen's sacrifice bunt.
Facing a second-and-third situation, Ridge View senior ace right-hander Gretchen Kistenmacher displayed her fielding skills by snaring Ingalls' suicide-squeeze bunt and flipped the ball to catcher Dana Hustedt for the putout to keep the score knotted at 1-all.
With North Union runners at the corners with two out, Art Ingalls sent Allie Ingalls from first base on a delayed steal-and-stop play. The strong-armed Hustedt fired a strike to second baseman Nicole Snyder, who alertly pegged a return strike to Hustedt to nail the runner trying to score from third to deny the Warriors the go-ahead run at that juncture.
Trailing 2-1 in the last of the seventh, Cheyanne Boland breathed new life into North Union's chances by drawing a one-out walk from Kistenmacher. Autumn Boland then reached on an error by Ridge View's third baseman to create a first-and-second situation.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, Raptor shortstop Kaylee Blenner made an incredible over-the-shoulder backhanded catch on Collete Haag's sinking liner and doubled off North Union's courtesy runner to end the game.
Sara Johnson went 2-for-3 to top the Warriors' five-hit effort, while Haag contributed a double.
Kistenmacher, Hoffman and Hustedt accounted for the Raptors' three hits.
Kistenmacher allowed one earned run on five hits, struck out four, walked two and hit one batter in seven innings of work to earn the complete-game victory.
RV 100 010 0 - 2 3 4
NU 000 100 0 - 1 5 2
Gretchen Kistenmacher (WP, 25-9) and Dana Hustedt. Allie Ingalls (LP, 22-2) and Cheyanne Boland.
LOB-North Union 10, Ridge View 4. 2B-Collete Haag (NU). HR-Sarah Rolling (NU). SAC-Jasmine Clausen (NU).