DYERSVILLE, Iowa — Dyersville Beckman knew it was going to have to scrap if it hoped to keep its softball playoff hopes alive.
Kiersten Schmitt gave the Trailblazers the spark they needed.
The freshman third baseman’s solo home run in the fifth inning broke a tie game open for Beckman and energized the Blazers to a 4-1 win over scrappy North Cedar on Wednesday in their Iowa Class 2A regional quarterfinal game.
The win sends Beckman (27-13) to Friday’s regional semifinal game against Northeast Goose Lake. The Rebels (20-13) ousted Cascade, 11-1, in their regional quarterfinal.
“The game went about exactly how I thought it was going to go,” said Blazers coach Ryan Meissner. “That is a scrappy team. They are way better than their record says. I told (my team) on Tuesday that we’ve got to find a way to scrap one out. I don’t care who does it, I don’t care how we do it. Just find a way and that’s what we did.”
Heather Boeckenstedt reached on an error to lead off the bottom half of the first for Beckman, stole second and advanced to third on a fielder’s choice. Sydney Steffen drove her in on the next at bat to give the Blazers a 1-0 lead.
Steffen then turned to the mound and had a no-hit bid going through three innings. However, with one out in the fourth, Kayla Syring reached on an error for the Knights. Carly Meier drove her in with a double to the left field wall and the score was tied at 1-apiece.
At that point, Beckman had had ample chances to pad its lead. But the Blazers were sent down with bases loaded in the second and fourth innings and stranded two runners in the third.
It looked as though Beckman was going to get skunked again in the fifth inning when Schmitt stepped to the plate with two outs. Instead, she drove a line drive over the left field fence on the first pitch to give the Blazers the lead for good.
“Going up to the plate, I just wanted to get a base hit,” said Schmitt, who hit just her second home run of the season. “I was seeing a lot of outside pitches and in my second at bat, I struck out. But I just kept my head up, wanting a base hit and then I got a home run.”
Lauren Osterhaus followed up with a walk, which put Abby Knepper on base as a pinch runner. Knepper moved to second after Nell McDermott reached on an error and scored in the next at bat on Boeckenstedt’s liner to left, a 3-1 Beckman lead to close the fifth.
“Kiersten hitting that big one just put a spark in the dugout that everybody just started to pick up after that,” said Steffen. “As soon as she hits those, the bats just start to pick up and everything seems to roll after that.”
Steffen led off the sixth inning with a double and was subbed off the bags for Mia Maiers. Maiers reached third on a sac bunt and was driven home by Emily Wulfekuhle’s single to put the Blazers up, 4-1, entering the final frame.
North Cedar threatened in the seventh when Alyssa Hefflefinger led off with a double and Kayla Syring reached on an error with one out. This put the tying run to the plate in Jenna Syring.
Beckman catcher Kamryn Klas gunned Kayla Syring down at second on a steal attempt and Steffen induced Jenna Syring into a centerfield fly out to seal the win.
Steffen and Wulfekuhle led the Blazers with two hits and an RBI apiece. Steffen finished the game allowing just four hits with three strikeouts, no walks and no earned runs.
Friday’s game is back at Beckman with first pitch at 7 p.m. The winner will advance to Monday’s regional championship game with a state tournament berth on the line.