A good, old-fashioned nail-biter.
There's no other way to describe Emmetsburg's 1-0 win over LeMars in softball action Thursday night. The thrilling win keeps the Lady E-Hawks in the thick of the league title hunt with a 6-4 mark, and an 18-8 overall record.
After falling on the road earlier in the month to the Bulldogs by a 4-2 score, Emmetsburg came into Thursday's game knowing they needed to topple LeMars, who had lost the night before to Estherville Lincoln Central, whom the Lady E-Hawks defeated two weeks earlier.
RUN?KAITY?RUN! - Emmetsburg’s Kaity Degen aims for the plate to score the winning run as the throw skips past LeMars catcher Maddison Heidebrink in Thursday’s 1-0 victory for the Lady E-Hawks. -- Dan Voigt photo
But Thursday's game would become a pitcher's and defensive battle of a textbook sort.
LeMars loaded the bases in the top of the first off a pair of hits and a batter hit by a pitch, only to be turned away by Emmetsburg, who would be retired in order in the first.
The Bulldogs went down in order in the second and returned the favor to the Lady E-Hawks.
A runner would get on base for LeMars in the third off an error, but would be left waiting. Emmetsburg would duplicate the effort when Whitney Kibbie got on off a second baseman's error, but was left waiting for a trip home when the inning ended.
LeMars would get runners on base off an error and a hit batter in the top of the fourth, but left the pair waiting at third and second as Emmetsburg pitcher Faith Schmidt managed to induce at-bat ending strikeouts.
Emmetsburg would get a pair of singles in the bottom of the fourth from Schmidt and Miranda Vlasman, but courtesy runner Alexa Naig was thrown out at third on Miranda Vlasman's hit and Vlasman was left waiting when the inning ended.
Still scoreless going into the fifth, LeMars went down two outs and then got a double before an intentional walk was issued and another walk earned to load the sacks a second time, but Schmidt earned the called strikeout to escape disaster a second time. but, the Lady E-Hawks would go down in order in the bottom of the fifth.
LeMars was retired in order in the top of the sixth frame, but Emmetsburg managed to get Kaity Degen on base off a walk, only to leave her waiting as well to end the inning.
LeMars went down one out to start the seventh, and then got back-to-back singles that resulted in one out on a force off a fielders' choice and an intentional walk loaded the bases a third time in the game. This time, A fly ball deep to left field was snagged by Degen to stop the Bulldogs cold a third time.
Emmetsburg came up to bat and got a leadoff single from Jacque Carlson, but she was put out on a fielders' choice on Michaela Rehm's at-bat for the second out before Rehm was put out on Teegan Olson's single to end the inning and prompt an eighth frame of play.
The Bulldogs would be struck out in order by Schmidt and the Lady E-Hawks started with a single by Kibbie, who was put out on Aly Berven's fielder's choice. Kaity Degen hit a fielder's choice that saw Berven put out at second as Faith Schmidt stepped up. Schmidt drilled a double to the fence in right center and Degen took off from first, rounding second and third as the throw headed to the plate, but skipped out of catcher Maddison Heidebrink's mitt as Degan crossed the plate to score the game winning run to end the game.
Faith Schmidt earned the win, going eight innings, allowing six hits, while walking three batters, two intentionally, and striking out 13.
Emmetsburg got a double and two singles from Schmidt, while Miranda Vlasman, Jacque Carlson, Teegan Olson and Whitney Kibbie all added base hits to the winning effort.
Emmetsburg traveled to Western Christian on Monday and hosts Laurenss-Marathon Tuesday, before hosting Cherokee on Wednesday and Estherville Lincoln Central on Thursday evening.