ONAWA — AHSTW thought they had fourth-rated West Monona figured out in their Iowa Class 2A regional semifinal softball contest Friday night.
The Lady Vikes were starting to get to Lexi Lander, the Spartan starter who fired a perfect game two nights earlier against IKM-Manning. Down 8-1 in the top of the sixth inning, coach GG Harris’ team touched Lander for four runs on five hits, including a Madison Heiny two-run single that turned a sure blowout into a very interesting game all of a sudden.
The Spartans made them guess again in the bottom of the sixth.
They erupted for three straight baserunners — two hits and an error at first base — to open their half of the frame, and that led to a six-run, seven-hit uprising that turned a blowout-turned-close game back into a blowout, en route to a 14-5 result.
Harris was proud of how his team fought back, but knew there was a reason why the Spartans were that good.
“They put together a little rally themselves there and woke the beast there,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ve seen a team approach at-bats like they did tonight. They were pretty impressive.
“We threw two pitchers at them and they see the ball well. The deeper the count, the more confident they get. They just do their job well at the plate.”
Not to say that the Lady Vikes didn’t put up a fight. After going down in order the first three innings, it was Paige Osweiler who broke the ice, reaching on a walk and eventually scoring on a Kailey Jones RBI single up the middle to cut into a 6-1 Spartan lead.
West Monona scored two in the bottom of the fourth, before the Lady Vikes fired back in the top of the sixth. Osweiler RBI’ed home lone senior Katie Anzalone on a double up the middle, before Heiny’s two-out, two-RBI single made it 8-5 and the game really interesting.
That only served to invigorate the Spartans, who put the game away with their uprising. Madison Haynes’ had two of her four RBIs on the ngiht in the frame, and Kylie Henschen had two of her four hits in that decisive frame.
“This is probably we were able to be down whatever it was ... and show that fight and be able to put (four) on in one inning,” said Harris, who was also pleased with how his team worked against Lander’s speed and pitching. “We might have been able to put one or two on before, but to put four in one inning against a really solid team that’s huge growth for our girls, and I told the girls I’m proud of that and we’ve got to focus on that.”
The Lady Vikings ended the season 12-11, with only Anzalone departing. She had the final of her team’s seven hits on the night, and the only one to have two.