Seventh-inning rally falls just short

by Tom Coombe

A dramatic play at the plate ended a busy - and otherwise successful - five game in four day stretch for Ely’s high school softball team.<BR><BR>Candice Smrekar was thrown out at the plate on a perfect relay throw from centerfield, snuffing out an Ely rally in the seventh inning and allowing Mesabi East to preserve a 7-6 win Tuesday at Hoyt Lakes.<BR><BR>The Timberwolves, who finished second in a May 1 tournament at Hill City and blasted Nashwauk-Keewatin in five innings Monday, nearly pulled off what would have been a remarkable comeback against the Giants.<BR><BR>Trailing 7-2 in the seventh, Ely loaded the bases on hits by Jackie Lekatz, Ashley Niskala and Linda Wiegman.<BR><BR>Sophomore Kelsey Ivancich then delivered the key blow of the inning, a grand slam home run that suddenly made it a one-run game.<BR><BR>Ely wasn’t done yet. Smrekar singled and later advanced to second, and she tried to score on Lara Doran’s base hit, getting thrown out on a close play at the plate.<BR><BR>“It had to be a perfect throw, and it still was a pretty close play,” said Ely Head Coach Steve Smrekar.<BR><BR>Mesabi East won despite getting just two hits. The Giants took advantage of walks and errors to build the lead.<BR><BR>Winning pitcher Samantha Littler scattered seven hits.<BR><BR>Lekatz finished with two hits for Ely, and was the losing pitcher.<BR><BR>Ely fell to 7-6 on the season.<BR><BR>“We just have to get over the hump of playing an error-free game,” said Steve Smrekar. “Then we’ll be in business.<BR><BR>Wolves 14, Nashwauk-Keewatin 4<BR><BR>Lekatz tossed a no-hitter for the victorious Wolves.<BR><BR>She struck out three batters, but control problems (six walks, two hit batters) allowed the Spartans to get on the board.<BR><BR>Ely, however, had more than enough offense to prevail.<BR><BR>The Wolves scored six runs in the second and added three more in the third frame.<BR><BR>Senior Lauren Klun went two-for-two with two runs scored and two runs batted in.<BR><BR>Ivancich doubled and had two RBI, while Gena Jerich finished with two hits for Ely.<BR><BR>Doran, Niskala and Jessie Ojala added hits for the Wolves.<BR><BR>Wolves second at Hill City<BR><BR>Ely won two of three games at the Hill City Tournament, falling 10-8 to Mt. Iron-Buhl in the title game.<BR><BR>The Rangers built an early lead against the Wolves, chasing Lekatz in the third inning after a six-run outburst in the second.<BR><BR>The Wolves battled back, pulling to within two runs before falling short.<BR><BR>Lekatz, Lauren Klun, Barb Klun, Ivancich, Ojala and Candice Smrekar all had hits for Ely.<BR><BR>Earlier, Ely beat Hill City 8-7 with Lekatz getting the win. She fanned nine Hornets batters and allowed six hits.<BR><BR>At the plate, Lauren Klun had a home run for the Wolves and Lekatz helped her cause with two hits.<BR><BR>Ely downed Aitkin 9-2 as Lauren Klun went three-for-three with two home runs and five RBI.<BR><BR>Doran also homered.<BR><BR>The Wolves are at International Falls and return home for a Tuesday contest with Cherry.<BR><BR>