Alburnett wears the Tri-Rivers softball crown

Softball: North Linn hands Pirates first league loss, then Alburnett salvages split

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ALBURNETT — The Alburnett Pirates "celebrated" their Tri-Rivers Conference softball championship Monday night with a postgame practice.

“Wouldn’t you practice after not throwing the ball and not catching the ball?” Coach Kevin Johnson said.

The Pirates — ranked No. 2 in Class 1A — weren’t perfect Monday and won’t finish unblemished in league play. But their split with North Linn wrapped up the outright Tri-Rivers title.

“A conference championship is always a goal,” Alburnett’s Maddie Volesky said. “It shows us where we are. We haven’t peaked yet. We’re still waiting on that. And when we do, we think we can compete with just about anybody.”

Alburnett (26-6 overall, 17-1 Tri-Rivers) put the race to rest with a 6-5 decision in a second game in which each team committed five errors.

The Pirates scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to erase a 4-3 deficit. North Linn (24-8, 13-5) got within 6-5 on Natalie Gallery’s solo home run, then loaded the bases with one out in the seventh.

But pitcher Brooklynn Ossman forced Gallery into a ground ball to third baseman Kassidy Rose, who threw to the plate for a force out. Kaytlyn Frasher grounded out to shortstop to end the game — and snap a 14-game North Linn winning streak.

“They’re a better team than what I thought they’d be,” Johnson said. “They’re young, and they made some errors, but you’d expect that from a young team like that.

“I don’t expect it out of our team.”

Lynx Coach Amy Bautista starts four eighth-graders. Abby Flanagan pitched both games, and twin Grace Flanagan caught them both. They both had an RBI hit in the eighth inning of Game 1 as the Lynx prevailed, 4-2. Gallery collected three hits in the opener, then smoked her first high-school home run in the nightcap.

“This young team has a lot of heart,” Bautista said. “They like to win. To steal one from Alburnett ... we felt like we owed them after they beat us in regionals last year.”

Alburnett rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the first game, scoring once in the fifth and once in the seventh. Volesky tripled home Taylor Huber to tie it, then tried to score on a bobble on the relay. She was tagged out at the plate.

Abby Klendworth opened the winning rally in the eighth with a one-out infield single, advanced to second on a groundout by Rachel Supple, then scored on Grace Flanagan’s rope to left-center field. Flanagan advanced to second on the throw home, then third on an error. She scored on Abby Flanagan’s double.

NORTH LINN 4-5, ALBURNETT 2-6 (1st,8)

At Alburnett

Game 1

North Linn 000 200 02 — 4 10 3

Alburnett 000 010 10 — 2 5 3

Abby Flanagan and Grace Flanagan. Amber Porter and Maddie Volesky. W — A.Flanagan (15-5). L — Porter (19-3).

Game 2

North Linn 000 311 0 — 5 6 5

Alburnett 101 130 x — 6 7 5

Abby Flanagan and Grace Flanagan. Brooklynn Ossman and Maddie Volesky. W — Ossman (2-2). L — A.Flanagan (15-6). HR — NL: Natalie Gallery (1).

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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