Olivia Engler & Jaeda Jensen

(Harlan) -- Olivia Engler's gem and some late-game heroics from Jada Jensen lifted Atlantic past Harlan in extra innings, and into the driver's seat of the Hawkeye Ten Conference. 

The Class 3A No. 11 and KMAland 3A/4A/5A No. 2 Trojans took sole possession of the Hawkeye Ten lead with a 2-1 eight-inning victory over the 4A No. 11 and KMA 3A/4A/5A No. 1 Harlan Cyclones in a game heard on KMA 960.


"The girls kind of like the underdog role we were in coming into this game," Coach Terry Hinzmann said. 

Harlan scored the first run of the game in the second inning with an Emily Brouse homer to centerfield. Brouse's homer would be the only base runner the Cyclones had all night thanks to lockdown pitching from Olivia Engler, who struck out 11 and walked zero in a near-perfect performance. 

"I knew she was going to hit the ball hard," Engler said. "Even though I was mad, I had to come back and do my job." 

Atlantic answered Brouse's homer with a sacrifice RBI from Alyssa Derby in the third to tie it at 1. 

Neither scored the rest of regulation, but their droughts came in different methods. Harlan did not have a single baserunner following Brouse's homer, retiring their next 21 batters. Meanwhile, Atlantic had multiple opportunities but could not capitalize. The Trojans managed nine hits as a team, reached on three errors and one hit-by-pitch. However, they stranded eight runners through the first seven innings.

"We had a couple situations where I wasn't very pleased with how the girls handled it," Hinzmann said. "Some things we got to clean up." 

Harlan had a chance to walk it off in the seventh with the heart of their lineup at the plate but went down in order forcing extra innings. Engler started the inning with a double. Lauren Nicholas then struck out for the first out of the inning.

Outfielder Jada Jensen pinch-hit for Maleana Woodward and made her only hit of the night an important one. Jensen battled back from 0-2 count before sending a blooper into centerfield over the head of second baseman Tianna Kasperbauer, plating a run and giving Atlantic a 2-1 lead. 

"I just made contact and it just happened," Jensen said. "It's a little nerve-wracking at first, but once you get up there it's pretty good. 

Engler then retired Elle Ineson, Kate Heithoff and Jordan Heese in order -- punctuating the game with her 11th strikeout of the night -- to give Atlantic the 2-1 victory and sole control of the Hawkeye Ten lead. 

Engler also finished the evening with three hits offensively. Madison Botos muscled two knocks while Reagan Pellett and McKenzie Waters each had one hit apiece. 

Harlan's pitching duo of Tianna Kasperbauer and Emily Brouse combined to throw nine strikeouts while allowing nine hits and two earned runs. Harlan drops to 9-2 overall and 6-1 in conference action. They will look to bounce back tomorrow against Clarinda.

Atlantic (9-1, 7-0) is back at it tomorrow with a road contest against Red Oak. Coach Hinzmann feels his team is beginning to play their best while trying to take things one game at a time. 

"We told them as they left that they can celebrate this win tonight, but we got to go to Red Oak tomorrow," he said. "If we lose tomorrow, this doesn't matter. If you're going to play your best softball, right now is the best time to do it."

The complete interviews with Engler, Jensen and Hinzmann can be heard below.