Tigers are within one step of Iowa High School Softball Tournament
LONE TREE — Class 1A defending runner-up New London moved one step closer to a return trip to next week’s Iowa State Softball Tournament in Ft. Dodge by dismantling Lone Tree, 13-2 in the regional semifinals July 11.
The third-ranked Tigers, now 25-4 on the season, meet 11th-ranked Bellevue Marquette in the regional championship at Wilton. Marquette is 33-6 on the season.
New London escaped any drama in this one, sprinting to a 3-0 lead in the second. The Tigers zipped to a 10-0 lead in the sixth with two runs in each of the fourth and fifth innings and three more in the sixth before the hosts countered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth. Three more New London markers in the seventh led to the final score.
The Tigers scored in every inning but the second.
Garnering just eight hits in the game, the winners took advantage of six walks and nine stolen bases to put pressure on the host Lions.
Emily Parks and Morgan Christner each had a pair of singles with the latter driving in three runs. Victoria Noel and Emma Pry (both doubles) had the only New London extra-base hits. Sami Koontz chipped in with a single, good for two runs and Sarah Holtkamp singled and led the stolen base department with two.
Christner took care of business on the mound, giving up just three hits while walking two and striking out four.
New London and Marquette meet for the second time in three years in the regional finals. The Tigers take an 11-game winning streak into the contest.
Christner, who has won 25 of her 28 decisions on the mound, takes an 0.83 earned-run average into the contest and has struck out 251 hitters in 168 innings.
Leadoff-hitter Sami Koontz, a senior rightfielder, leads the offense with a .537 average. Christner (.433), Parks (.421) and Jorgi Krieger (.400) all are at or exceed the .400 mark at the plate.
New London is a relatively young team, starting five sophomores in the field and two juniors.
Marquette has used both Gabby Tath (17-5) and Nicole Blum (16-1) on the hill. Catcher Bella Bethel (.433) is the team’s leading hitter while Blum, who plays shortstop when not pitching, is at .411. Marquette has just one senior in the starting lineup.