Rams fall in 1-0 Harlan heartbreaker

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By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

Call it a fluke, a cruel twist of fate or a unlucky break – the result is the same.

A pitch from Lisa Nebel got past catcher Bailey Starner and Harlan’s Logan Schaben slid in safely to score the game’s only run to end the Glenwood softball team’s season with a 1-0 loss in the Class 4A, Region 8 Quarterfinals at H. Jack Field Saturday.

“It’s an extremely tough way to lose,” said Glenwood coach Tim Stanton. “Both teams played exactly the same: both played great defense and both pitchers pitched well. It comes down to a ball getting to the screen and a run scored in the first inning and no one in the world thinks that’s going to be the end of it.

“I told the girls both teams played great softball and it comes down to that ball just not bouncing our way. It was nobody’s fault. But it ends up deciding a district game.”

A game decided by a single run in the first inning on a wild pitch started off just as strange. Harlan won the pre-game coin toss to decide who would be the home team and the Cyclones chose to be the visitors on their own field to give their hitters first crack.

“Their coach wanted to be the visitors, I’m not sure why,” Stanton said. “The girl that called the coin toss and asked to be visitor went back (to her coach) if she was sure and she wanted to change her mind and I stepped in and said ‘We’re not changing our mind, we flipped  a coin and you made a call and that’s the way it was going to be.’”

After a conference with officials and Harlan Athletic Director Mitch Osborn, they agreed the initial request of the Cyclones to be the visitors would stand.

“Ironically then they bat first and squeak this one run across the plate in the top of the first,” Stanton said. “If roles are reversed maybe that run doesn’t come across. I’m not saying it was the big decider but it’s strange how things work like that.”

With the Cyclones’ Taylor Schaben and the Rams’ Nebel tangled in an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel, Glenwood never threatened until the sixth. Following what appeared to be a single by Sara Ingoldsby to lead off the inning, the home plate umpire ruled the speedy eighth-grader stepped out of the batter’s box for the hit and was called out. The Ram’s Jacey Embray then smacked a double to left field that came up just short of being a game-tying home run.

“That was a tough call on Sara,” Stanton said. “It changes everything. We would have scored her with no outs and a runner on second. But you change that scenario and it’s a painful call to swallow. I saw it and she didn’t step out of the batter’s box so it was really tough to swallow but you have to keep playing and Jacey came up with a great hit.”

Embray was sacrificed to third base but Schaben induced a strikeout to end the Rams’ potential rally.

“We just could not get anything to go together at the plate,” Stanton said. “Neither team hit the ball real hard. Both pitchers had each team off balance all night.”

Nebel struck out eight and scattered four hits. Schaben allowed just three hits.

“She’s been big time for us all year. She didn’t pitch anydifferent against Harlan than she did against Griswold at the beginning of the year,” Stanton said. The task ahead of her has nothing to do with the team she’s facing. She comes to work everyday and gives 100 percent. And that’s what she did against Harlan.”

Glenwood closes it season with a  record of 27-11 overall and 14-4 in the conference.

Glenwood 9,
Harlan 5

COUNCIL BLUFFS - A nine run second inning and a nearly flawless defensive performance carried Glenwood to a 9-5 victory over Council Bluffs Lewis Central in the Class 4A, Region 8 softball second round Thursday.

The third meeting between the teams this season – they split the regular season series – opened with little fireworks the first two innings. The Titans singled twice and Glenwood was held to a single base runner – on a hit by pitch – over the first two innings.

The then third inning happened.

After going hitless through the line up once, the Rams seemed to adjust the second time through the order against Titan starter Morgan Means.

Bailey Starner led off the inning with a pop out before Hanna Ringsdorf reached on a hit-by-pitch bringing leadoff hitter Grace Newman to the plate. Newman smacked the Rams’ first hit of the game between shortstop and third base. McKenna Henze followed up Newman’s hit with a single of her town to load the bases.    

Jaelin Stanton then blooped a hit over the first baseman’s head that scored Ringsdorf an error on the throw home then allowed Newman to slide in safely for the 2-0 lead.

But the Rams weren’t done yet.

Myranda Starner doubled in the next at-bat to plate to more runs and following a HBP on Lisa Nebel, Sara Ingoldsby reached on an error that scored Stanton.

A Jacey Embray double to the right field gap cleared the bases to make it 7-0.
The Titans committed three more errors in the inning lead to two more Ram runs.
A dozen batters later, Means induced a ground out from Stanton to end the inning.

But the damage was done.

“The first time though, we looked at pitches,” said Glenwood Coach Tim Stanton. “The second time through we started making better contact and we were able to get ourselves into situation where we were  bunting in situations where we’d normally be stealing, putting pressure on the defense to make really good plays. And we have a lot of fast kids on this team who are good at putting the ball in play and putting teams in decision making plays.”

Nebel was in control through the fourth inning – allowing just two hits – before Allie Martinez’ solo home run to lead off the inning. The Titans loaded the bases later in the frame but Nebel struck out Mackenzie Hatcher to end the threat.

In the fifth, the Titans would stage their rally.

Three straight Lewis Central singled to open the fifth cut the lead to 9-2. Nebel struck out Morgan Means for the first out of the inning before Molly Cunnard doubles to the gap in leftfield to make it 9-4. Steffi Cunnard followed with a single to plate one run before Nebel stopped the bleeding, inducing a strikeout and an infield pop out to end the inning.

Sensing the chance in momentum, Coach Stanton pulled his pitcher aside between innings and gave her some advice: pitch likes it’s a scoreless game.

“Sometimes when you get a big lead like that you pitch to not give the lead up and I told her, go pitch like its 0-0,” Coach Stanton said. “Don’t change the game plan at all. Throw aggressive to the batters that need it and the batters that don’t, don’t go 3-2 to them. Make them hit the ball and get them out of there.”

Nebel settled over the final two inning, striking three and facing just one over the minimum. The junior finished with 10 strikeouts to extend her school record single season strikeout total to 252. Nebel never seemed to get phased by the Titan’s fifth inning or the fact she was hit by pitched three times.

“I have never seem that in a softball game before,” Stanton said. “I know their pitcher. I know she wasn’t doing it on purpose but I do think they were trying to pitch inside on her. I don’t think there was anything foul about it, I just think it was strange.”

The reward is a Saturday tilt at No. 13 Harlan Community (24-7) in a regional semifinal at 7 p.m. The Rams will head to Harlan on Saturday to take on the Cyclones for a shot in the regional semifinals. Glenwood was only team to defeat the Hawkeye Ten Conference champion Cyclones during the league season.

Glenwood 5,
C.B. Abraham Lincoln 0

Lisa Nebel allowed just one hit and struck out 12 for Glenwood in a 5-0 shutout victory of Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln last Monday.

The Rams plated two runs each in the first and the third innings and one more in the fourth on just five hits. McKenna Henze was 2-for-2 with a RBI and a stolen base. Sara Ingoldsby singled and drove in two runs.