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Lynx reach 3rd straight finals

—Messenger photo by Britt Kudla North Linn players celebrate after beating Central Springs 8-5 on Wednesday in a Class 2A semifinal. The Lynx will be playing in their third straight finals. For more photos, visit CU at messengernews.net

Fifth-ranked Central Springs won the Home Run Derby, 3-2, but second-ranked North Linn earned the victory that mattered most in a Class 2A state semifinal yesterday at Rogers Park.

North Linn jumped out to a 3-0 lead after three innings and saw its lead whittled down on multiple occasions.

The Lynx eventually hung on to knock off Central Springs, 8-5, to advance to the state championship game for the third consecutive season.

The Lynx won the title in 2019 and finished second in 2020.

Skylar Benesh cranked a solo home run to left field in the third inning to push North Linn (41-6) out to the 3-0 lead. Jill Smith belted a two-run shot to left-center in the fifth.

In the fourth inning, Central Springs’ Madisyn Kelley hit the first of her two dingers, a two-run blast to left-center. She hit another two-run bomb in the sixth.

Trailing 8-4 entering the seventh, Central Springs closed to within three runs on the game’s fifth home run — a solo shot to center by Emme Dietrich. The Panthers had two aboard with two outs when Kelley stepped into the batter’s box again, and she nearly tied it with a mammoth blast to left, but it landed a few feet foul.

North Linn pitcher Ellie Flanagan struck her out on the next pitch up in the zone to end the contest.

North Linn owned an 11-8 hit advantage and played error-free. Central Springs made three defensive miscues.

North Linn will face seventh-ranked Earlham (34-9) in Thursday’s championship at 7:30 p.m.

Central Springs will take on top-ranked Wilton (29-4) in the third-place game at 6 p.m.

Earlham upset Wilton, 9-6, in the other semifinal.

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