The Pella Christian softball team came out swinging Tuesday in its Class 2A district semifinal matchup with Pekin. The Eagles racked up four runs in the first two innings and then hung on for a 4-2 win.

Pekin game into the game with a glossy 30-5 record and the Eagles were 30-10, so a tight battle was expected.

The Eagles threatened to blow the game open in the first two innings, but then Panther ace Mycaela Crouse settled in and blanked the Eagles over the final five innings.

In the top of the first, the Eagles used thunder in their bats to make a statement. Katie Nieuwsma led off and hit a sizzling drive off the left field fence for a double. Dana Van Zee sacrificed Nieuwsma to third and Megan Pothoven hammered a double off the fence in left for an RBI. Cayla Collins nailed the third double of the inning with a shot in the gap in left-center to score Pothoven. A single by Paige Fynaardt put runners at the corners and Kaela DeBruin got the RBI with a ground out to deep short.

With two out in the second, Nieuwsma slammed another double to left and she scored when Van Zee’s ground ball was misplayed.

Pekin cut the lead in half in the bottom of the third. Kira Swanson led off with a base hit and swiped second. Swanson scored when Kayla Northup’s ground ball was thrown away. Northup stole second moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a hit by Shelby Blakely.

The Panthers made a couple of threats, but some outstanding outfield defense saved the day.

In the sixth, Blakely led off with a single and was running on a hit and run play. The ball was driven to right field and Carlee DeGraaf made the grab and gunned the runner down as she tried to get back to first. In the second center fielder Kaylee Van Weelden nailed a runner trying to stretch a single into a double.

The seventh inning proved to be scary for eighth-grade pitcher Paige Blom. She walked the first two batters and then a fielder’s choice erased the lead runner. The Blom got a fly ball to left and a strikeout to put the lid on a big win for the Eagles.

Pella Christian coach Kevin Van Maanen was pleased with the early hitting, but would have liked to see the aggressive hitting continue.

“We hit the ball early against a very good pitcher,” Van Maanen said. “Then we seemed to get a little tentative and lost some of our aggressiveness. After a couple of errors, our defense really tightened up and our outfielders made some nice plays.”

The Eagles raise their record to 31-10 and will face Pleasantville in Pleasantville Saturday night for the district title.

Pella Christian 4, Pekin 2

PC 310 000 0 — 4 10 2

Pek 002 000 0 — 2 5 1

Pella Christian battery — Paige Blom (W, 21-4, 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K) and PAige Fynnaardt.

2B — Katie Nieuwsma 2, Megan Pothoven, Cayla Collins

Hits — Nieuwsma 2-for-4, Pothoven 2-for-4, Collins 1-for-4, Fynaardt 2-for-4, Kaela DeBruin 1-for-2, Jana Van Zanten 1-for-3, Blom 1-for-2. Runs — Nieuwsma 2, Pothoven, Collins. RBI — Pothoven, Collins, DeBruin.


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