No. 5 Comets, Mustangs march through postseason openers

CONRAD — Easton Swanson got a lot more than just her third home run of the season, but her two-run shot in the bottom of the first inning was all the BCLUW softball team needed with Bailey Ashton in the circle.

Ashton struck out 17 Central Decatur batters and the fifth-ranked Comets cruised to a 9-1 win over the visiting Cardinals in Wednesday’s Class 1A Region 4 quarterfinal.

Swanson finished 3-for-4 with a two-run homer in the first and a double in the sixth, bookending BCLUW’s scoring in the opening round of postseason play. Central Decatur (15-14) didn’t get on the scoreboard until the top of the seventh, busting up Ashton’s no-hitter with a pair of hits to chase home its lone run. Eily Hall doubled home Kylee Rockhold, but that’s all the Cardinals could manage.

Ashton’s 17 strikeouts ties for ninth in the state this summer for single-game performances. She walked only one.

Cate Nason finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs at the plate for BCLUW, driving in Swanson after her double in the sixth, and Kennedy Williams had two singles and drove in a run for the Comets.

East Marshall 10, Belmond-Klemme 0, 5 innings

LE GRAND — By the time Belmond-Klemme had learned its lesson, it was already too late.

East Marshall senior catcher Madison Farrington hit a grand slam in the fourth inning and drove in the game-winning run with a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the fifth, helping the fifth-ranked Mustangs beat Belmond-Klemme 10-0 in Wednesday’s Class 2A Region 1 quarterfinal.

East Marshall (29-4) claimed its 16th straight victory by vaulting past the Broncos (11-13) and into Friday’s regional semifinals, where the Mustangs will host Colfax-Mingo (22-7).

Kodie Hoskey pitched a one-hitter with 12 strikeouts, allowing only a leadoff single in the top of the fifth for Belmond-Klemme’s Allison Barrus. She struck out the side from there to finish off the inning, and the Mustang offense ended it moments later.

Hoskey struck out eight of nine Broncos the first time through the batting order and only once reached a three-ball count, improving to 18-3 for the year.

Maria Rasmusson went 3-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and two RBIs to lead East Marshall offensively. Reagan McIlrath finished 2-for-3 with an RBI triple and two runs scored, and Juliana Arifi was 2-for-3 with an RBI as well.

Farrington’s lone hit was her fourth-inning slam to make it 7-0, and back-to-back doubles by Hannah Birks and Hoskey upped the margin to 8-0.

In the fifth, Broncos relief pitcher Haley Beminio walked Emma Pfantz and Melinda Puumala before Rasmusson doubled in a run. Belmond-Klemme intentionally walked McIlrath to load the bases for Farrington again, but she took a full-count walk to plate Puumala as the game-ending run.

Maddison Dougherty took the loss for B-K, allowing eight runs — six earned — on 10 hits and two walks, striking out one.

West Marshall 11, Greene County 1, 6 innings

STATE CENTER — The West Marshall softball team capitalized on six walks and five Greene County errors to beat the Rams 11-1 in six innings of Class 3A Region 5 quarterfinal action here Wednesday night.

The Trojans (14-17) tallied 10 hits while sophomore pitcher Loran Nicholson spun a three-hitter for the win, issuing no walks while allowing all singles. Two of them came in the top of the sixth when the Rams (10-18) logged their lone run.

West Marshall’s first four batters reached base in the bottom of the first, scoring two runs before errors allowed two more Trojans to cross home plate for a 4-0 lead. Grace de Neui’s two-run single capped a three-run second, and two more Ram errors helped West Marshall tack on two runs in the third for a 9-0 advantage.

Nicholson, Kayla Cripps and Renae Schaper each had two hits, including a double for Nicholson, to lead the Trojan attack. Cripps and de Neui both drove in two runs. Karisa Blocker added a single and a sacrifice fly, Avery Randall singled and scored, and Morgan Cripps had a hit and an RBI.

West Marshall advances to face No. 13 Mount Vernon (25-11) on the road Friday night. Eleventh-ranked Solon (22-15) hosts Benton Community (15-22) in the other regional semifinal.