By BRADEN LAYER
---- — NEOGA -- BCCH and Neoga squared off Monday afternoon in the opening round of the NTC tournament, where a number of costly mistakes by the Lady Eagles swung the game in favor of the home team.
In a contest where neither team could really generate much flow offensively, seven errors by BCCH allowed Neoga (6-8-1) to pick up a 5-1 win and advance to the tournament's second round."When they made the mistakes, we made them pay," Lady Indians coach Clay Haurberg said. "We ran the bases pretty well today."After going down 1-2-3 at the plate and spotting the Lady Eagles one run in the first, Neoga evened the score in the second inning. BCCH's Kirby Herrmann walked Casi Blazich to open the inning, then Blazich advanced to second on a stolen base. Two batters later, Stephanie Roderick lined a shot back at the mound that Herrmann blocked, forcing Micah Jones off first base to grab the elusive ball. With first uncovered, Roderick flirted with an extra bag before Jones quickly tossed the ball back to Herrmann in an attempt to force Roderick to make a move.As soon as the ball left Jones' hand, Roderick bolted to second, and Herrmann turned her back on Blazich, who was now on third, to pick off the other runner. The move allowed Blazich an easy path home to tie the score."When we did get the ball in play they made miscues," Haurberg said. "We hurt them really bad, we got multiple bases on some of those errors."The mental mistakes struck BCCH again in the fourth. Neoga scored two runs in the frame off of no hits, two walks and two errors. Amber Potter walked to start the inning, and scored off a Lady Eagles throwing error to second base in an attempt to get Roderick, who again pushed her luck.Roderick struck a hard ground ball, and should have been out at first, but the BCCH throw to Jones sailed wide. Willing to push the envelope, Roderick took off for second, and Jones tossed a hopeful ball trying to pick off the Neoga baserunner. Her throw was unsuccessful at second, and Potter used the distraction to score and put Neoga ahead 2-1."We make good fielding plays, we put the ball in play, it's our throwing errors," BCCH coach Carolyn Wendte said. "Our throws are just not where they need to be, and a lot of times they are not to the bases they need to be."The second run of the inning was another heartbreaker for the Lady Eagles. Bayley Neece skied a shot in the air, and Herrmann tried to glove it just inside the foul line. Yet the ball would drop fair off the tip of her glove and roll all the way behind the catcher, freeing Neoga's Allison Posten for another run.The final two Neoga tallies came in the sixth. Posten singled to open the inning, and Josie Taylor reached first on balls two batters later. Following a wild pitch from Herrmann, Neece hit a ground ball that BCCH again fielded, but the throw to first was off once more. Two more runs scored off the error, and Neoga led comfortably by four runs with one BCCH at bat remaining."I only had them for one earned run," Wendte said. "It's just the little things, we should know how to throw the ball, our mental lapses are pretty big when it comes to thinking before the ball is put in play. There's no excuse."Neece got the start for Neoga on the mound, and pitched well in her complete-game effort, fanning five batters with no walks. BCCH finished with eight hits on the afternoon, compared to Neoga's six, but more importantly, the Lady Eagles were limited to just a single run."Pitching was good," Haurberg said. "I thought Bayley did a good job out there, she's really starting to come along."With the win, Neoga will take on Altamont, at Altamont, in the battle of the Indians Wednesday with a berth in the NTC semifinals on the line. First however, Neoga will take on both Effingham and St. Anthony today.Following the loss, BCCH fell to 1-9, and the Lady Eagles are back at it today against Ramsey.
Braden Layer can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
BCCH	100	000	0	1 8 7Neoga	010	202	x	5 6 1WP - Neece	LP - Herrmann
BCCH: Pierce (2 1B); Hilt (1B); Reed (1B, RBI); Lorton (2 1B); Wehrle (2 1B).Neoga: Jean (1B); Potter (1B); Posten (2 1B); Roderick (2 1B).