Prep Softball

At long last, Cedar Rapids Washington softball is victorious

Warriors split with Dubuque Senior to snap a 55-game skid

Cedar Rapids Washington’s Grace Stockmaster fields a ground ball earlier this season. Stockmaster was the winning pitcher Tuesday, when the Warriors snapped a 55-game losing streak with a win over Dubuque Senior. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Washington’s Grace Stockmaster fields a ground ball earlier this season. Stockmaster was the winning pitcher Tuesday, when the Warriors snapped a 55-game losing streak with a win over Dubuque Senior. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
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They sang. They cried.

“It was an awesome bus ride home,” Amy Bautista said. “The energy was amazing.”

After 55 consecutive losses, the Cedar Rapids Washington softball team tasted victory Tuesday night, capturing the second game of a Mississippi Valley Conference doubleheader, 4-1, at Dubuque Senior.

Grace Stockmaster pitched a three-hitter with eight strikeouts, and Corri Peterson and Tanaya Sylvester ignited the offense with a pair of two-run singles.

Washington’s last victory was July 7, 2016 — a first-round regional win against Cedar Falls. The Warriors lost in the next round, against Iowa City West.

Then came 2017, an 0-39 season in which the Warriors were outscored by a combined margin of 584-4.

The athletics director at Isaac Newton Christian Academy, Bautista took over the Washington program after a successful stint at North Linn. The wins didn’t come right away, but it was obvious that progress was being made. The batting average is up (from .131 to .196), and the ERA is way down (from 36.34 to 8.64).

“It’s been a challenge in getting them to believe,” Bautista said. “We’re such a young team (11 eighth-graders are on the roster).

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“But the upperclassmen ... they’ve been through a lot. There were a lot of tears afterward.”

Washington went the full seven innings in four of its first 14 games. Then after a 10-0, five-inning loss to Senior in the first game Tuesday, the Warriors (1-15 overall, 1-13 MVC) broke through.

They led 4-0 heading into the seventh inning, then the Rams scored a run and had two baserunners with two outs before center fielder Megan Bartels raced into the gap to catch a fly ball to seal the win.

“It was a special moment,” Bautista said. “All the kids on the bench raced onto the field. At some point, when we were ahead, one of their coaches yelled to their team, ‘Don’t you know who we’re playing?’ That really fueled our fire.”

North Linn's 1-2 punch

When North Linn’s Kaitlyn Sommerfelt and Hannah Bridgewater get on base, they don’t stay there long.

“We don’t go station to station,” Lynx Coach Marv Porter said. “We’re going to run.”

Bridgewater leads the state (all classes) in runs, with 46. Sommerfelt is second, with 36.

“We steal a lot of bases,” Bridgewater said Monday after the Class 2A 14th-ranked Lynx (19-3) swept Lisbon to take possession of first place in the Tri-Rivers Conference. “And it helps that we have Abby (Flanagan) and Grace (Flanagan) behind us to drive us in.”

Sommerfelt, a freshman and the Lynx’s leadoff hitter, is hitting .521 and is tied for the state lead in stolen bases (31). Bridgewater, a sophomore, owns a .608 on-base percentage and is 27-for-27 in steals.

Bridgewater cracked her third home run of the season on Monday.

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“I’ve spent a lot more time in the weight room this year,” she said. “If I get a good pitch, I’m going to swing away.”

Around the horn

* Benton Community will honor its 1998 state-championship team between the JV and varsity games against Cedar Rapids Xavier on Friday at Van Horne. The Bobcats went into the postseason that year with a sub-.500 record, then didn’t allow a run in Fort Dodge and claimed the Class 2A title.

* West Delaware will host a two-day, 16-team tournament Friday and Saturday. Top contenders include two-time defending 1A state champion Lansing Kee and Independence.

* The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union will release regional pairings Monday for Class 3A, 2A and 1A, and June 22 for Class 5A and 4A.

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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