EMMETSBURG - Spirit Lake returns to the state softball tournament after an eight-year hiatus with its 6-5 victory over Class 3A No. 14 Osage on Monday.
The Indians broke a 5-5 tie in the top of the seventh inning as Bailee Newman and Caitlyn Roberts drew back-to-back walks and a single by Mackenzie Thate loaded the bases. After Carly Ites want down on strikes, Whitlee Reitz' single scored Newman. Osage got out of the inning without further damage as Maddie Richter hit a ball to shallow center field with Jaime Jacobs making the catch and doubling up Thate at second base.
But the Green Devils couldn't do anything in the final inning with their 3-5 batters. Shortstop Thate caught a popup from Kayla Tubbs and didn't have to move her feet to catch a line drive by Cassidy Mohl. Amber Schwarting then popped up in foul territory with first baseman Ites making the grab.
Spirit Lake celebrates its 6-5 victory over No. 14 Osage on Monday as the Indians earn a trip to the Class 3A State Softball Tournament (July 21-25) in Fort Dodge.
Photo by David Swartz
The win sends the Indians to the state tournament for the fifth time in school history, but the first since 2006.
All three of Spirit Lake's playoff wins have been decided by one run. The Indians had to hold off Sheldon 9-8 in the regional first round and then rally with two runs in the bottom of the seventh to beat Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley 3-2.
"Every game we played this year prepared us for this game," said Spirit Lake coach Rachel Gerking, who was a sophomore on the state championship team in 2004 and also a member of the teams that went to state in 2003, 2005 and 2006. "We're used to lead changes and coming from behind. We believed we were going to win even when Osage was coming back."
Spirit Lake (23-8) will faced No. 3 Clarke at 3 p.m., Monday at Mittera Field at Harlan Rogers Park in Fort Dodge.
The Indians took the early lead against Osage with two runs in the top of the first. Newman drew a leadoff walk, stole second and scored when Thate reached on error by the Osage third baseman. With two outs, another error by the third baseman allowed Thate to score.
Osage looked to get those run back as Newman walked the first three batters. But Hannah Huebsch grounded back to Newman, who threw to Reitz for the force out at home plate and Reitz doubled up Huebsch on the throw to Ites at first base. Angela Chambers then grounded out to second baseman Carter Hassel to end the at-bat.
The Green Devils didn't threaten again until the fourth, scoring two runs on a walk, two hits and two Indians errors.
The 2-2 tie didn't last long as Kayla Herrig led off the fifth inning with a triple to right center field. She scored on a one-out double by Roberts. After a walk to Thate Ites reached on a fielder's choice with Osage not able to get an out. Osage then got a force out at home for the second out as Reitz hit a grounder to third base. But Richter came up with a two-RBI single as the Indians led 5-2.
Osage came storming back in the bottom of the inning with Chandler Banta leading off with a solo home run over the leftfield fence. Two singles and a groundout scored another run with Schwarting driving in another run with a single to tie the game at 5-5. The Indians were again able to get out of the inning without further damage. Osage only had one baserunner the final two innings. No. 9 batter Joslyn Perrin drew a leadoff walk, but was doubled up when Thate snagged a Banta line drive just above her head.
Newman earned the win as she struck out four and walked five while giving up six hits. Only two of Osage's runs were earned.