Kamryn Meyer’s one-out RBI-double scored Kylie Schult and ended the season for the young and feisty Maquoketa Valley softball team as Durant sent the Wildcats home after a 10-0 beating in the bottom of the fifth inning of their regional quarterfinal game in Durant July 10.
“We knew coming into this game it was going to be tough, but to take a team like Durant to five innings, I’m absolutely proud of these girls,” said Macey Kintzle, coach of the Wildcats. “I told them to go out there and have fun, that’s all I wanted. They did that and they accomplished so much more. We have nothing to be disappointed about. We stuck with them as long as they could.”
Durant, the second-ranked team in Class 2A, showcased its team speed and striking quickly to score five runs in the bottom of the first inning before Maquoketa Valley had a chance to settle into the game. Ruby Kappeler, Durant’s lead-off batter, laid down a bunt and ended up on second base after a throwing error. Hannah Happ’s single to short right field scored Kappeler for the first run of the game. Happ then scored on Allie Poston’s RBI-single.
Facing Durant’s clean-up hitter, Rylie Aldrich got Jada Rock to ground out to Payton Beaman at shortstop for the first out of the inning. Mallory Warner followed with a double that plated Poston and after Schult grounded out to Maddy Anderegg at second base, Meyer delivered a two-run homer for a 5-0 lead.
Meyer struck out the side against Maquoketa Valley in the top of the second and Durant’s team speed again made an impact in the bottom of the frame. Ally Happ walked to start the inning, stole second base and scored on a single by Kappeler who took second on the throw to the plate. After Hannah Happ grounded out to Beaman, the aggressive base running continued as Kappeler stole third and scored when Taya Tucker’s throw ended up in left field. At that point, Aldrich seemed to settle into the game as she struck out Warner and Schult to end the inning with Durant holding a 7-0 advantage.
All night long, the Wildcats struggled to make any type of contact against Meyer (18-4) who ended the game with eight strike outs, but Aldrich and the Wildcats’ defense matched Durant in the third inning as both teams were sent down in order.
Ally Happ’s bunt single got things rolling for Durant in the fourth. She moved to third on Kappeler’s single and scored on Hannah Happ’s sacrifice bunt that also got Kappeler to third. Pitching tough, Aldrich threw a ball in the dirt that got away from Tucker behind the plate. Kappeler took off for home, but Tucker quickly recovered, put the ball in her glove and dove over home plate tagging Kappeler for the second out of the inning. During that same at bat, Poston ripped a home run to left field that would have been a walk-off homer if Tucker hadn’t made that great play at the plate. Instead Durant was up 9-0 and Maquoketa Valley forced the game into the fifth inning.
After they slowed the game down and survived the first inning, Maquoketa Valley played with Durant. The defense stepped up and was making plays while Aldrich dug deep and found that she had a lot more to give in the circle.
“In the beginning of the game, it was just the jitters of a big post-season game. Once we got rid of those, we made the plays when we needed to. Our defense stepped up and made plays that extended the game. If Payton doesn’t make those plays in the hole or Taya doesn’t make that diving tag at the plate we’re done,” said Kintzle. “That girl sees the game so well. As soon as that ball got away from her, she knew what she had to do to keep that run from scoring. She controlled that situation, got the out and that was huge for us.”
Another player for the Wildcats who improved during the game was Aldrich. After a shaky start, she settled in and pitched Durant very tough. Aldrich (9-10) allowed 11 hits, but walked only one batter and ended up with three strike outs.
“There is nowhere to run when you’re having a rough day in the circle, but she did her job. She gave up just one walk and made those girls put the ball into play. She pitched tougher later in the game and that was awesome. She worked so hard throughout the game and I’m very proud of her,” said Kintzle about her junior pitcher. “To shake off the big hits to get the next hitter shows that she has the ability to let those things go and get back to work. That’s actually what we needed from her and she delivered. She’s grown so much this year and I’m excited to see what she can do next year.”