Prep Softball

Brian Erbe reaches milestone in Cedar Rapids Jefferson's season-opening sweep

J-Hawks handle Washington, sending coach's career win total to 500

CEDAR RAPIDS — The outcome was expected. So was Brian Erbe’s response.

“It’s not about me. It’s about these kids, this program, this school,” Erbe said after pushing his career coaching win total to 500. Cedar Rapids Jefferson swept Cedar Rapids Washington, 13-0 and 13-1, in a Mississippi Valley Conference softball doubleheader Tuesday night at Franklin Field.

Erbe, 63, is in his 16th year as a head coach and owns a career mark of 500-193, including 176-44 at Jefferson, where he is beginning his sixth season. He was 324-149 in 10 years at Cedar Rapids Xavier.

He has taken nine teams to state — five at Xavier, four at Jefferson. He was an assistant under Larry Niemeyer when Jefferson won state titles in 1997 and 1998.

“He’s a very special coach,” said junior Lindsey Culver, last year’s state leader in home runs (19) and RBIs (71). “He’s the favorite coach I’ve ever had. He cares for the players a lot.”

Said pitcher Erica Oler: “He’s just a cool dude that’s fun to be around.”

Jefferson (2-0 overall, 2-0 MVC) figures to be ranked highly in Class 5A when the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union reveals its first rankings Wednesday. The sweep wasn’t a surprise; Washington (0-2, 0-2) is coming off an 0-39 season in which it scored just four runs.

Judging by Tuesday’s performance, this is a more competent — though very young — crew of Warriors. The pitchers threw strikes, and the defense made the routine plays.

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“I think, realistically, we can win maybe 15 games,” said first-year coach Amy Bautista, whose 18-player varsity roster includes 11 eighth-graders.

The Warriors still have a long way to go to reach Jefferson’s level, though. The first game lasted three innings, the second contest went four.

Culver reached base in each of her seven plate appearances, hitting a home run, two doubles and two singles, and twice getting hit by a pitch. She drove in five runs.

Emily Kuba added a three-run homer in the nightcap, and pitchers Oler and Courtney Rawson gave up three hits and struck out eight between them.

Gallery: Brian Erbe through the years

But though he insists it wasn’t, this was Erbe’s night. Black balloons signifying “5-0-0” adorned the J-Hawks’ dugout afterward, and the J-Hawks enjoyed cupcakes — some, in their stomachs; others, on their faces.

“It’s my passion,” Erbe said. “The kids understand that. They know when it’s time to get after it. But, yeah, we had a little fun tonight.”

C.R. JEFFERSON 13-13, C.R. WASHINGTON 0-1 (3,4)

At Franklin Field

Game 1

C.R. Jefferson 256 — 13 11 0

C.R. Washington 000 — 0 1 4

Erica Oler and Hannah Markham. Grace Stockmaster and Corri Peterson. W — Oler (1-0). L — Stockmaster (0-1).

Game 2

C.R. Jefferson 510 7 — 13 13 1

C.R. Washington 100 0 — 1 2 0

Courtney Rawson and Hannah Markham. Mady Meeker and Peterson. W — Rawson (1-0). L — Meeker (0-1). HR — CRJ: Lindsey Culver (1), Emily Kuba (1).

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

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