By John Burbridge firstname.lastname@example.org
CHARLES CITY — For a microsecond, it looked as if Charles City’s phantom left fielder was finally going to be tested.
Decorah sophomore Ambria Pipho, who had already hit the ball hard twice off Comet ace Sami Heyer — a line-shot snared by Charles City first baseman Cora Crooks and a RBI double to deep right-center field — had gotten around on a Heyer pitch for a hot low-hopper heading down the left-field line.
With the Comets again opting for five infielders and two outfielder while leaving left field vacant for right-handed hitters facing Heyer, it looked as if Pipho and baserunner Katie Nimrod — both rather swift afoot — were going to run forever … or until they crossed the plate for perhaps a 2-run inside-the-park homer or at least an RBI triple.
But Pipho’s drive hit third base and popped upward, not even getting out of the infield while keeping Nimrod and Pipho at second and first, where they were left stranded in the top of the fifth inning with Charles City leading 5-1 — the eventual final.
For the Class 4A No. 1-rank ed Comets, it was their 11th straight win which improved their overall record to 18-1 while maintaining their perch atop the Northeast Iowa Conference with an undefeated league mark of 9-0.
For Heyer, the complete-game victory — which included nine strikeouts — improve her record to 13-0.
Comet leadoff hitter Lisabeth Fiser reached base four times while going 3 for 3 including a double. Fiser also stole four bases and scored twice.
Ciana Sonberg reached base three times and had an RBI single to open the scoring, and Payton Reams had 2 RBIs for the Comets, who are due to play two NEIC away games against Crestwood on Wednesday and Waverly-Shell Rock on Thursday before returning home to host Algona on Friday.
Aside from the third base bag, Heyer also got help from her defense.
In the third inning, Crooks ranged to her right to snare another hot liner — this one hit by Alea Lutkenhaus — and then dove back to the bag to double-up Alexis Svestka, who couldn’t get back in time.
Then with runners on the corners with one out in the top of the seventh, Charles City catcher Kelby Katcher threw out her eighth would-be base-stealer of the season.
Decorah, which got two hits from Pipho, a double from Lutkenhaus, and a game effort from starting pitcher Avery Shelton who limited Charles City’s explosive offense to just five hits in six innings, fell to 2-8 and 2-7.