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Slow start hampers No. 6 Gaels

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Faith Shirbroun of St. Edmond slide around North Polk on Tuesday at Rogers Park

Bill Shirbroun walked away from Rogers Park Tuesday night with plenty of positives despite the end result.

Shirbroun’s sixth-ranked (Class 1A) St. Edmond softball team could not overcome a difficult first inning, falling to second-ranked (4A) North Polk, 11-5.

The Comets (17-2 overall), who have lost only to No. 1 (5A) Waukee Northwest and top-ranked (3A) Williamsburg this year, plated five runs on three hits with a pair of St. Edmond errors to go up 5-0 early.

From there, the Gaels (10-2) battled back, plating runs in fourth different innings, highlighted by a two-run blast by Mariah Myers. Faith Shirbroun had a hit, worked two walks and scored twice while Lauren Gibb drove in two, had a double and also walked.

“We showed plenty of resiliency,” Shirbroun said. “I’m proud of that. We can build off that. After the first, we could have just laid down and not challenged them but the girls did.

“We are playing these teams and putting ourselves in these games to get better.”

North Polk, who reached the state tournament last year under returning head coach Rick Dillinger, lost in the quarterfinals. Dillinger, who spent time at Iowa as the pitching coach, owns over 1,100 career wins and three state titles in 49 seasons at the prep level.

“When you play his team, they are going to expose you,” Shirbroun said. “We’ve learned to do that to teams but we have to take that next step and be able to stop it from happening to us.

“Those are the little things that can really hurt you in key situations.”

For the Comets, No. 9 hitter Katelyn Klever recorded her third home run of the season while leadoff hitter Elyse Engebretson was 4-for-5 with three runs scored.

Tessa Dillinger, Rick’s granddaughter, had three hits and drove in three while Lauren Ausborn collected a pair of doubles.

“They are a very good hitting team with a tough pitcher,” Shirbroun said. “I thought we had some quality at-bats against her.”

Ava Husak, a junior who pitched for North Polk last year, struck out 14 and walked four. In the third, she surrendered the homer to Myers, which was the fourth of the year for the junior.

Gibb had her RBI-double in the fifth and scored after hitting a double in the second when freshman Sophia Schlienz dropped in a single.

The Gaels will return to North Central Conference action on Wednesday when they host Clear Lake.

NORTH POLK 11, ST. EDMOND 5

North Polk 520 200 2 — 11 12 0

St. Edmond 012 010 1 — 5 7 3

WP–Ava Husak (13-2, 7 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 14 K, 4 BB). LP–Kaili Henning (6-2, 7 IP, 12 H, 6 ER, 4 K, 2 BB).

HR–NP: Katelyn Klever; SE: Mariah Myers. 2B–NP: Lauren Ausborn; SE: Lauren Gibb, Kaili Henning. RBI–NP: Ava Husak, Lucy Lucas, Tessa Dillinger (3), Peyton Westra, Lauren Ausborn (2), Katelyn Klever (2); SE: Mariah Myers (2), Lauren Gibb (2), Sophia Schlienz. SB–NP: Jenna Manock; SE: Faith Shirbroun, Lauren Gibb. LOB–NP: 6; SE: 6.

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