Kee celebrates, then celebrates again in 1A state softball championship

Hawks topple Akron-Westfield for 1A title

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FORT DODGE — Gloves flew into the air. Screaming, sweaty girls mobbed each other.

It was a premature state-championship celebration. A dress rehearsal, as it turned out.

“That just shows the passion and excitement in these girls,” Lansing Kee Coach Liz Hill said. “That would be something that would happen to us.”

The Hawks can laugh about it now. They got another shot at a dogpile, but quite frankly, the first was better.

Second-ranked Kee shook off an extraordinarily strange play in the seventh inning and finished off a 7-3 victory over No. 1 Akron-Westfield for the Class 1A state softball championship Friday evening at the Rogers Sports Complex. It's Kee's first state championship in any girls sport.

“We’ve been waiting for this since third grade,” said winning pitcher Courtney Cooper, the all-tournament captain after spinning a three-hitter.

Kee finished 39-6. The Hawks got to the state finals in 2014 and were swatted by the Westerners by a 12-1 count.

Not this time. Not this team.

Kee scored twice in the fourth inning to break a 1-1 tie, then No. 9 hitter Makayla Walleser unloaded a three-run double to break it open in the sixth.

“I knew I had to do something,” Walleser said. “The bases were loaded, and the team needed me.”

It was 7-1 heading to the seventh inning, setting the stage for a zany play.

With two runners on base and one out, Bailey Davis hit a shot to Kee first baseman Chloe Severson, who dropped the line drive, picked it up and stepped on the bag.

She had a play at second base to complete the game-ending double play, Walleser (the shortstop) caught the ball before the runner got to the base, and the celebration began.

But the play was not a force play. As the Hawks went bonkers on the infield, both remaining baserunners circled the bases and cut the margin to 7-3.

Three batters later, the Hawks finished if off and could celebrate again, for real.

“This is great. I’m super jacked,” Severson said. “It was really nice to play them again and beat them. We were a lot more confident and ready to go than we were last time.”

The Westerners (35-3) struck first with a run in the top of the second inning. Brynn Van Eldik led off with a triple down the left-field line, then scored on Jessica Hansen’s squeeze bunt.

Kee answered immediately on Casey Welsh’s RBI single to tie the game in the bottom of the second. Katie Brennan singled home Severson in the fourth, then scored on a wild pitch for a 3-1 Kee lead.

Severson, Kendra Cooper and Nicki Wood joined Courtney Cooper on the all-tournament team.

LANSING KEE 7, AKRON-WESTFIELD 3

Class 1A State Championship, at Fort Dodge

Akron-Westfield 010 000 2 — 3 3 0

Lansing Kee 010 204 x — 7 9 1

Ann Hedlund, Bailey Davis (6) and Davis, Hedlund (6). Courtney Cooper and Katie Brennan. W — Cooper (27-3). L — Hedlund (20-3).

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

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