West Delaware improved to 17-7 after facing a pair of ranked opponents (3A, No. 5 Solon and 4A, No. 2 Independence) and hosted a plethora of solid programs, taking third overall at the Hawks’ own softball tournament, June 14-15.
Ranked at No. 9 in Class 4A, the Hawk offense put forth a week worthy of praise behind the standard excellence that has become a trademark of the West Delaware pitching efforts in recent years.
They began the week by splitting a doubleheader at Solon (15-7) June 10. Despite tying the Spartans in hits, with seven, the Hawks could not manage to knock in any runs in game one. Meanwhile, Solon’s Hilary Wilson, Skylar Stookey and Kayla West all went yard and collected seven RBIs to help Solon take it 7-0.
Game two went without a score from either team through five. In the top of the sixth, senior shortstop Claire Demmer hit a double that would send in sophomore outfielder Eva Winn for the game winning score. The effort was later praised by Hawk head coach Tiffany Rave.
“I was extremely proud of how we rebounded in game two, as it was a hard-fought game on both sides,” Rave said. “The big moment for us in that game came in the bottom of the sixth. (Solon) had the top of their line-up up to bat. They loaded the bases against us with one out and their fifth hitter at the plate. She hit a line drive to Heather (Heims) at second base, and (Heims) caught it and doubled the girl up at first.”
The exciting moments continued two days later in another difficult road match-up with Independence (19-8). The first game would take 14 innings to sort out, with Hawk ace Macey Kleitsch returning from a break in action last week for a 10-hit, 10-strikeout complete-game effort that ended in heartbreak as Indee’s Mary Puffett drove in teammate Allie Jo Zieser for the walk-off victory. Sophomore Eve Wedewer and freshman Ella Koloc both went 3-for-6 and stole a base to lead the Hawk offense in the loss.
Independence went on to sweep West Delaware with a 10-4 game-two win thanks in part to a 2-for-3, four RBI night from junior catcher Kenzie Fischels. Emily Klostermann gave a valiant effort from the circle for the Hawks, striking out seven Independence batters in 4 ⅔ innings. Demmer and JoAnna Voss provided a pair of RBIs apiece.
“That first game was what playing softball is all about, and it was quite the battle on both sides,” Rave said. “(Kleitsch) pitched an incredible game. She kept their hitters guessing all 14 innings and got out of two bases loaded jams in extra innings.”
“Although, we left Indee with two losses that night I think we learned a ton about ourselves as a team,” Rave added in retrospect.
West Delaware regrouped and hosted its annual tournament at the Beckman Sports Complex in Manchester, June 14-15. The Hawks needed just two innings to drop their first opponent, a lowly Cedar Rapid Washington (1-20), with a final score of 12-0.
That game, however routine it may have been, was most notable in that it included Wedewer’s first home-run of the season. The quick-soled outfielder, who currently leads all Hawk hitters, went 2-for-3 and knocked in three runs to kick off her hot hand on the weekend.
She continued that dominance in a 10-0 rout of Starmont (10-14) in the second match-up of the tournament, hitting all four times while driving in four and stealing three bases. Wedewer’s underclassman counterpart, Koloc, also had a big day, going 2-for-4 with a double, triple and two RBIs.
“(Wedewer) has done an exceptional job in that leadoff position for us. She is such a gamer and plays with a ton of grit, which is exactly what you want in the start of your line-up,” Rave said. “She has consistently been putting the ball into play hard, which is putting a lot of pressure on defenses early in the game and giving us an opportunity to get on the board early.”
Day two of the tournament saw the Hawks lose a 5-2 battle to 2A, No 2 ranked North Linn (25-3) in game one. The Lynx set the tone early behind a pair of RBIs from freshman Jill Smith as they scored four runs to open the third inning. Demmer and Kleitsch got their bats in order in their next appearances to cut that deficit to two for the Hawks, but North Linn would scratch one more across in the fifth and hold off a hard charge from the host team.
Klostermann took to the circle in the final game of the week, striking out six and allowing just one-hit in 4-0 shutout of the Beckman Blazers (14-9). Wedewer (2-for-4), Winn (1-for-3), Voss (1-for-2) and junior Leah Wegmann (1-for-3) all contributed an RBI in the victory, which solidified a third-place finish for the team at their own invitational. The Lynx would take the crown after taking down Williamsburg in the championship, 5-1.
Rave hopes the hitting trends will continue as the Hawks look to sharpen up for an eventual postseason run. With as strong a 1-2 pitching combination as they have had, the offense may be what ends up bringing West Delaware to the next level.
“A lot of the credit for the girls’ success at the plate goes to their off-season work. Over the past few years they have recognized the importance of hitting, and have worked extremely hard to better themselves at the plate,” Rave said. “We continue to stress our approach at the plate and generating power on a daily basis, and it has been fun to watch the girls succeed offensively.”