All Westerners in opener

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Danika Smith of Akron-Westfield beats the throw for a score against New London on Monday at Rogers Park.

Third-ranked Akron-Westfield wasn’t about to experience a 2017 repeat.

Last year, when the Westerners (27-4 overall) were rated second, they were stunned by Sigourney in the quarterfinal round.

The specifics may have seemed similar beforehand on Monday, but Akron-Westfield took care of business by recording a 12-2, six-inning victory over unranked New London (29-10).

Akron-Westfield will now face AGWSR (27-7) in a Class 1A semifinal game. Action begins at 1 p.m. Wednesday on Buena Vista University Field.

“When you looked up, at one point, both teams had four or five hits — but we led by four runs,” said Akron-Westfield head coach Todd Colt. “We just got some timely hitting.

“We were aware of how hard they were hitting the ball, so we kept on it. They played well, but we were able to stop them when they had momentum going.”

The Westerners jumped out early, scoring three in the first and two in the second. They built a 7-0 lead. After New London led 7-2, The Westerners ended the contest in the bottom of the sixth with a base clearing triple from Lily Kenny.

“It’s important to get up early,” Colt said. “It dictates what we can do and dictates what they can’t do.

“We have four seniors that are very clutch.”

Akron-Westfield pounded out 12 hits, including three extra base knocks.

Natalie Nielsen (18-2) earned the win, allowing seven hits. She walked zero and struck out two.

Senior Danika Smith had a strong day at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a double and drove in four runs. She narrowly missed a home run on her double.

“I wish it went over, but I’m fine — I got on,” Smith said. “It was nice to get the win after losing in the first round (here) last year.”

Classmate Courtney Waterbury was 2-for-4 with three RBI.

Seniors Brynn Van Eldik and Kiana Appley had two hits each.

“We hit well,” Van Eldik said. “And we continued to get better and stronger as the game went on.”

Senior Carson McSorley and Sydni Coleman had two hits each for New London. Sophomore Alexa Wenger and freshman Marah Hartrick drove in runs.

“We made a lot of mistakes and on the bases,” said New London head coach Duane Blint. “They put pressure on us and we didn’t play well. We hit the ball OK.”

New London will now face Janesville on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. on Veterans’ Diamond.

AKRON-WESTFIELD 12, NEW LONDON 2 (6 inn.)

New London 000 002 0 — 2 7 2

Akron-Westfield 321 105 — 12 12 1

Camryn Blint (L; 2 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 0 SO); Natalie Nielsen (W; 6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO).

2B–NL: Marah Hartrick, Sydni Coleman (2); A-W: Danika Smith, Brynn VanEldik. 3B–AW: Lily Kenny. SB–NL: Carson McSorley; AW: Danika Smith, Tori Nemesio (2), Brynn Van Eldik.