116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
WAVERLY – The victory was sweet. The championship rings were even sweeter.
Coe players enjoyed both, celebrating their American Rivers Conference softball title with candy Ring Pops provided by senior Hannah Escamilla for such an occasion.
“It is ring season,” Coe senior Megan Weber said. “This is our first ring. Now, we’re going for a natty champ ring.”
Weber belted two home runs and drove in the final three runs, powering the Kohawks to a 6-4 win over No. 15 Wartburg in the regular-season finale Saturday at Lynes Field. Coe claimed its sixth regular season conference crown and automatic berth to the NCAA Division III tournament.
Friday’s doubleheader split that included Coe erasing a 6-0 deficit for a 9-8 win, set up the winner-take-all showdown.
“Thank God for the long ball,” Coe Coach Diane Meyer said. “Our pitchers hung in there. They battled. Wartburg is such a tough hitting team. They are a tough out up and down the lineup. I knew we were going to have to be our best today to beat them.”
Coe was picked to finish in the middle of the conference pack in the preseason coaches poll. The young and scrappy team continues to surprise its head coach, finding ways to win, even when not at its best.
“They picked us fifth in the conference and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Coe Coach Diane Meyer said. “They just don’t quit fighting.”
The Kohawks (23-11, 18-6) played solid all game. Weber’s bat provided a big boost with two crucial shots in the final three innings. Weber, who entered the game with three home runs this seasons, cleared the center field fence for a two-run home run that made it 5-0 in the fifth.
Weber cleared her mind and let her instincts take over.
“I wasn’t thinking,” Weber said. “I was just reacting and doing anything I could to help the team win.
“I was just trying to get base hits and it ended up going over the fence.”
Her solo home run to left field in the seventh provided an insurance run for reliever Hannah Ausenhus, who worked a scoreless seventh, fielding a pop-up to end it with the winning run at the plate.
“We know they were going to battle,” Weber said. “They had runners on the last inning. I was just doing anything I could to get another run in or getting on base. I just came up big.”
Meyer said Weber missed last year’s shortened season and a majority of her sophomore season due to a ruptured appendix. She wanted to see the senior succeed in her final games. Weber came through against the Knights.
“She’s been in a little bit of a slump,” said Meyer, noting that she joked with Weber about their unorthodox batting cage drills between the last two at-bats. “We’ve talked about how she wants to finish her senior year.
“I wanted her to end on a really good note.”
Coe scratched out three early runs. Kelsey Hora, who came up big defensively in Friday’s nightcap, earned a leadoff walk. She stole second and scored on Madi Parson’s groundout to shortstop.
The Kohawks added two more in the third, getting RBI singles from Parson and Shaylee Dodd to score Natalie Blank and Hora. Dodd finished 4-for-4 with two doubles and Parson added two hits, scoring on Weber’s first homer.
“That is how we have to score,” Meyer said. “We have to steal bases, we have to put balls in play on the ground. We have a fairly speedy team at quite a few spots. We like to use our speed when we can.
“They find ways to find the gaps or a hole somewhere.”
The Knights (26-8, 17-7) pulled within one with a four-run fifth. Tarah Wehde smacked a three-run home run with two outs, following Olivia Brecht’s sacrifice fly that chased home Madison Stoaks.
Wartburg challenged again in the sixth, putting the tying run in scoring position. Dodd teamed with Keera Ball for an inning-ending double play that thwarted the rally. Ellie Thurow pitched six innings and earned the win.
“We know we have a good team,” Weber said. “We just connected these last few weeks. We were able to pull off some big wins, just like this weekend.”