DYERSVILLE, Iowa — No matter how it ended, Friday was going to mark the final home game for longtime varsity standouts Sydney Steffen and Heather Boeckenstedt.
The rest of Dyersville Beckman’s lineup made sure it ended on a positive note.
Emily Wulfekuhle went 4-for-4 and nine Trailblazers safely reached base after the first two outs were recorded in the decisive fourth inning, sending No. 10-ranked Beckman to a 10-6 victory over Northeast Goose Lake in a Class 2A regional semifinal at Beckman High School.
“They’re a big component to this team,” Wulfekuhle said of Steffen and Boeckenstedt, a pair of five-year starters and the only seniors on the roster. “We just want to make sure they keep going and get sent off with a good note.”
The Blazers (28-13) advanced to play No. 2-ranked Durant (29-6) in Monday’s regional final at a site to be determined. Beckman needs just one more win to reach the state tournament for the first time in program history.
“We’re going to play like we did tonight,” said Blazers third baseman Kiersten Schmitt, who reached base all four times she stepped to the plate, scored a run and drove in two more. “We’re going to hit the ball, we’re going to feel really good, and we’re going to come out fighting.”
Wulfekuhle and Shea Steffen had RBI singles in the first inning for Beckman, which took an early 2-0 lead only to see Northeast (20-14) turn it around in the third inning on Nevaeh Hildebrandt’s two-run homer and Abby Boyer’s two-run single.
Boeckenstedt’s RBI single in the bottom of the third cut the Blazers’ deficit to 4-3, but the potential tying run was waved off after the trail runner was thrown out at third base before Shea Steffen could cross the plate.
The game flipped completely the next inning.
Northeast pitcher Alexis Ehlers, who threw 5 1/3 innings in relief of Alyssa Pessman, quickly recorded the first two outs in the inning, but things unraveled fast as Kamryn Klas walked, Wulfekuhle singled and Shea Steffen walked to load the bases.
“We try to tell them, when you step in the box you have to have a plan. What are you going to do? One pitch, one spot, hit it. If it’s not there, let it go,” Beckman coach Ryan Meissner said. “The other night we didn’t have a plan and it showed. We didn’t hit very well. Tonight they had a plan. They got in the box and they knew, this is what I’m going to do.”
Schmitt delivered a two-run double to the gap in left-center, and after Lauren Osterhaus walked to reload the bases, Nell McDermott lined another two-run double to the same gap for a 7-4 lead. Northeast intentionally walked Boeckenstedt and Jadyn Welling drove in another run with a single. Steffen, the ninth batter to step to the plate with two outs in the inning, singled home two more to make it 10-4.
“The dugout really stepped it up that inning and our teammates were really good at picking us up,” McDermott said. “My head was down (after) I struck out earlier in the game. Heather really picked me up before and said just have confidence.”
Northeast’s Val Spooner doubled home two runs in the seventh.
Now, the Blazers try to make some program history.
“We just have to have a plan. The next two days we’ll come up with one and have a plan to execute,” Meissner said. “We don’t need to score 1,000 runs. Just have a plan. Get on base, get her over and get her in. Do the little things.
“It would be nice to go to Fort Dodge.”