116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CENTRAL CITY — Dave Johnson called his return to the Central City High School softball program “a breath of fresh air.”
But, boy, Lansing Kee had him sweating Wednesday.
“It’s getting late, we’re down 2-0 to a well-coached team like them, that’s reason to be nervous,” Johnson said.
The bottom of the Wildcats’ order allowed him to exhale that fresh air again.
Cami Ellis ignited a pair of scoring rallies, and 15th-ranked Central City pulled away from Kee, 6-2, in a Class 1A regional quarterfinal at Central City High School.
“We needed to be disciplined in the (batter’s) box,” Ellis said. “I was able to motivate myself, and my teammates really stepped up.”
The Wildcats (33-7) will host Calamus-Wheatland (17-16) — a 3-2 winner over Edgewood-Colesburg — in a regional quarterfinal at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The final score wasn’t indicative of the stress level on the favored Wildcats. Down 2-0 entering the bottom of the fifth, they needed a spark, and the lower end of the order provided it.
Ellis walked. Avery Wise singled. Bella Damm walked. When the order rolled over to the top, the bases were loaded with no outs.
Isabelle Whitson delivered a hard-hit ball that turned into an error and two runs to tie the game. Then Sara Reid hit a run-scoring groundout to put the Wildcats in front.
After a Hannah Kramer RBI single and a pair of wild pitches, it was 5-2.
Reid took it from there in the circle. She scattered five hits, struck out seven and walked one, improving to 27-5 this season.
“(Kee is) a good-hitting team,” Reid said. “They put the bat on the ball. Credit to them.
“Coach kept telling us to lay off the low pitches. The bottom of the order got that in their heads. They were super-disciplined, and that got us going.”
Ellis led off the sixth with a single, then scored on a triple by Wise, an eighth-grader.
Alison Wagner’s two-run double put Kee (17-15) in front 2-0 in the top of the third. Mudderman had three of the Hawks’ five hits.
Johnson got the Central City program to a high level in his first stint here, but left after the 2019 season to take over at Solon.
The grass wasn’t greener.
“I’ll be honest. It’s a real joy to be back here this season,” Johnson said. “It’s a breath of fresh air, it’s fun to coach again and this is a special team to be around.”
Central City 6, Lansing Kee 2
Class 1A Regional Quarterfinal, at Central City
Lansing Kee 002 000 0 — 2 5 2
Central City 000 051 x — 6 5 1
Reagan Mudderman and Alison Wagner. Sara Reid and Bailie Weber. W — Reid (27-5). L — Mudderman (11-9).