For the Northeast Rebels, the road from their home in Goose Lake to playing against the Beckman Blazers in the regional semifinals, quite literally, went through Cascade. The Cougars visited Northeast for a quarterfinal matchup, July 10, and found themselves overwhelmed in a season-ending, 11-1, loss that was over in just five innings.
“We knew they had a good hitting ballclub with six hitters over .350 or better,” coach Ron Lehman said. “For the first three innings, we played awesome. We took a one-run lead (in the third) on an RBI by Addy Weber — but we left four or five runners on base.”
Alyssa Pessman threw 81 pitches for the Rebels, allowing five hits, one earned run and two strikeouts for an ERA of 1.40. Cascade Senior Whitney Clemens got the first of those hits, a single, for the Cougars in the opening frame, but was left stranded. After that, Cougar senior Lidia Boffeli struck out Northeast junior Claire Abbot, and the game went into the second with no score.
Senior infielder Madison Gehl opened the second with a double, but her hit was followed by two flyouts and capped off with a Pessman strikeout. The Cougars responded well after that on defense, retiring all three Rebel batters quickly.
Boffeli struck out to start the third, but Devin Simon sparked what would soon be the lone Cascade run of the game by drawing a walk and then stealing second. Simon’s legs brought her all the way home when Weber hit the RBI.
The inning nearly kept going, with Clemens nabbing a double in the four hole and Kremer drawing a walk, but Northeast left fielder Makenna McDonald ended those hopes by catching the flyout to retire Gehl.
Northeast took control of the game from there, posting six runs in the bottom of the third and another five in the next frame. It was a devastating turn of events for the Cougars, who had split a doubleheader with the Rebels to open their 2019 campaign.
The Rebel hitting escapades began with a single from freshman Kayelee Hansen. A sacrifice bunt by shortstop Alexis Elhers sent Hansen to second. Moments later Neveah Hildebrandt tied the game on an RBI-single. The floodgates had opened, with Bree Mangelsen nabbing the lead for Northeast with a two-RBI double. The lead became 6-1 as the Cougars ended the inning by retiring Hansen.
Cascade sophomore Shannon Morris hit a single to open the fourth and advanced to third off some luck (a Rebel wild pitch) and a bit of leg speed. Pessman retired the next two Cougar hitters after that, but gave up a walk to Boffeli to keep the threat alive. An infield fly from Simon sent Cascade back to the drawing board.
Hildebrandt ignited the five-run fourth for Northeast with her sixth home run of the season, a two-run blast. The runs kept creeping in after that as the Rebels continued to play tactically from the plate.
Sophomore pitcher Sam Recker entered the game for Boffeli to try and see what she could do for the ailing Cougars, but it was too late as the Rebels went up 11-1 to bring the 10-run rule into the equation.
With three outs left, the Cougars went down two right off the bat in the fifth as Weber and Clemens were out on infield plays. Kremer stepped up to the plate and fought the count en route to her 14th double of the season, a team best, but, with zero outs to burn, Morris lined out to first shortly after to end the game.
The loss pushed the Cougars’ final record to 15-16 overall. They will return roughly half of a young lineup that will see five seniors graduate in Clemens, Kremer, Gehl, Felton and Boffeli. Northeast (20-13) advanced to play Beckman (27-13) in Dyersville.