LEON — Nodaway Valley outhit Central Decatur here Wednesday in a Class 2A Region 7 quarterfinal, but one bad inning was enough to send the Wolverines packing in a 6-1 loss to the Cardinals.
The game cruised along through two and a half innings, with Nodaway Valley eighth-grade pitcher Paige McElfish perfect through two innings, and Central Decatur’s Sadie Greene stranding four runners through her first three innings of work.
McElfish issued a leadoff walk to Hannah Mendenhall to start the third and Hailee Kelso dropped a sacrifice bunt to move her over. An infield error then put runners on first and third with one out and leadoff batter Caitlyn Saxton coming up.
Saxton, playing eight days after dislocating her patella in a win against Mount Ayr, knocked a deep single to center field to score Mendenhall. Brittany Binning reached on a bunt single to load the bases.
An error in the outfield allowed Hallie Linhart to reach base, scoring Akers. Greene was safe on a fielder’s choice as the throw home was too late to get Saxton and then a throw to third base went wide, allowing Linhart to score. Greene eventually scored on the play a the ball was overrun in the outfield after the errant throw.
Another error in the inning allowed a runner to reach base, but Nodaway Valley finally stopped the bleeding, albeit too late. The Cardinals scored six runs on two hits and five errors in the inning.
“That one inning just killed us,” Nodaway Valley head coach Ray Stewart said. “That’s happend to us more than once this year, and in the past, we’ve had a lead and blew it. But tonight, they had that six-run inning and that’s the same thing they did up to our place when they beat us that other time. Those errors just bit us. That’s the bottom line.”
McElfish surrendered six runs, only two of which were earned, on five hits with one walk and one strikeout. Nodaway Valley collected six hits on offense.
Emily Huntington drove in Josie Carter for the lone Wolverine run in the top of the fifth inning.
Falling behind 6-0 proved to be too much to overcome, especially with Greene in the pitching circle and Linhart behind the plate.
Greene struck out seven and walked just two, while Linhart threw out a runner trying to steal second from her knees on a first-and-third situation, effectively shutting down any hopes of Nodaway Valley establishing a running game.
“It’s tough to come back against her (Greene),” Stewart said. “And they’ve got a good ball team. That catcher is about as tough as you’ll see. We had a good year. We ended up with 14 wins, which is what we had last year.”
Nodaway Valley, finishing at 14-19, returns all but one player for next year. A host of young talent is set to return, including McElfish and Carter, a sophomore center fielder.
Catcher Sydney Reeves was the lone senior on the roster and played her final game for the Wolverines Wednesday.
“She’s been a great kid for us, been a great teammate,” Stewart said. “She has done so much for me. She’s my go-to girl. Great senior and just a great kid. She’s a super kid.”
Central Decatur, now 17-9, advances to take on Des Moines Christian (18-12) at 5:30 p.m. Friday in Urbandale. Des Moines Christian defeated Woodward-Granger 12-1 Wednesday night.
Central Decatur 6,
Nodaway Valley 1
R H E
NV 000 010 0 — 1 6 5
CD 000 000 0 — 3 5 2
Paige McElfish 1K 1BB and Sydney Reeves. Sadie Greene 7K 2BB and Hallie Linhart. W — Greene. L— McElfish. HR — none. 3B — none. 2B — CD: Mary Akers 1. RBI — NV: Emily Huntington 1. CD: Caitlyn Saxton 1, Sadie Greene 1. Multiple hitters — none.