Seventh-inning rally falls just short
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.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.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.Trailing 7-2 in the seventh, Ely loaded the bases on hits by Jackie Lekatz, Ashley Niskala and Linda Wiegman.Sophomore Kelsey Ivancich then delivered the key blow of the inning, a grand slam home run that suddenly made it a one-run game.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.“It had to be a perfect throw, and it still was a pretty close play,” said Ely Head Coach Steve Smrekar.Mesabi East won despite getting just two hits. The Giants took advantage of walks and errors to build the lead.Winning pitcher Samantha Littler scattered seven hits.Lekatz finished with two hits for Ely, and was the losing pitcher.Ely fell to 7-6 on the season.“We just have to get over the hump of playing an error-free game,” said Steve Smrekar. “Then we’ll be in business.Wolves 14, Nashwauk-Keewatin 4Lekatz tossed a no-hitter for the victorious Wolves.She struck out three batters, but control problems (six walks, two hit batters) allowed the Spartans to get on the board.Ely, however, had more than enough offense to prevail.The Wolves scored six runs in the second and added three more in the third frame.Senior Lauren Klun went two-for-two with two runs scored and two runs batted in.Ivancich doubled and had two RBI, while Gena Jerich finished with two hits for Ely.Doran, Niskala and Jessie Ojala added hits for the Wolves.Wolves second at Hill CityEly won two of three games at the Hill City Tournament, falling 10-8 to Mt. Iron-Buhl in the title game.The Rangers built an early lead against the Wolves, chasing Lekatz in the third inning after a six-run outburst in the second.The Wolves battled back, pulling to within two runs before falling short.Lekatz, Lauren Klun, Barb Klun, Ivancich, Ojala and Candice Smrekar all had hits for Ely.Earlier, Ely beat Hill City 8-7 with Lekatz getting the win. She fanned nine Hornets batters and allowed six hits.At the plate, Lauren Klun had a home run for the Wolves and Lekatz helped her cause with two hits.Ely downed Aitkin 9-2 as Lauren Klun went three-for-three with two home runs and five RBI.Doran also homered.The Wolves are at International Falls and return home for a Tuesday contest with Cherry.