The West Delaware softball season ended with a 7-4 loss to the Winterset Huskies in a Class 4A State Tournament quarterfinal game in Fort Dodge, July 27.

Coming in as the No. 2 seed, the Hawks fell behind early when the seventh-seeded Huskies scored a run in the top of the first. Jenna Young doubled off West Delaware ace Macey Kleitsch to lead off the game. Natalie Drake followed with a single to drive in Young. Bridget Stover singled for the third hit of the inning, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Kleitsch retired the next three Huskies in order to limit the damage to a single run.

Winterset struck for five runs in the second on five hits. The Huskies had already scored three runs in the inning when Ava Lowden hit a two-run home run, making the score 6-0.

The Hawks got a run back in the bottom of the second when Leah Wegmann drew a two-out walk. Courtesy runner Alivia Schulte stole second and scored on Alissa Holtz’s drive into the center-field gap. But Holtz was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double and the inning ended with Winterset leading 6-1.

In the third, Jessi Nicholson led off with a single. A sacrifice bunt and a fielder’s choice moved her to third base with two out. Winterset pitcher Thea Banning helped her own cause with a double that scored Nicholson, making the score 7-1.

Kleitsch limited the Huskies to two hits the rest of the game, but the Hawk offense couldn’t find the answer to Banning. The Hawks went down in order in four of the first six innings.

West Delaware fought back in the seventh. Eve Wedewer led off with a double. But Banning got back-to-back strikeouts, leaving the Hawks down to their final out. Leah Wegmann drove in Wedewer, sending a 2-2 pitch to the left-center field gap for a double. Holtz reached on an infield hit, putting runners on first and second. Mia Peyton, down to her last strike, drove in both runners with a single. But that was all the Hawks could manage, falling 7-4.

Holtz was 3-for-3 for the Hawks, who finished with seven hits against Banning. Heather Heims, Wegmann, Wedewer and Peyton each had a hit.

The Hawks stranded only one base runner.

Kleitsch allowed 13 hits, two walks and struck out two.

West Delaware finished the season 21-5.

Head coach Tiffany Rave had praise for Winterset as well as her own team.

“Hats off to Winterset,” Rave said. “They are a nice team with a nice pitcher and some good defense. I told the girls we are at the state tournament and that teams are going to hit the ball. I told them we can do the same thing.”

Rave continued, “I complimented our girls. They fought to that last pitch. It didn’t go our way, but that’s the way it is.”

Rave acknowledged there was some doubt whether they would get to play softball this summer in Iowa due to COVID-19. “The kids are lucky to be here. We aren’t ready for it to be over, and yes, they had big goals. Maybe it didn’t end the way they wanted it to end, but they were lucky to even be playing and even more lucky to be playing in Fort Dodge.”