Prep Softball

Newton's 7th-inning home run sinks Xavier in state softball quarterfinals

Emily Valtman's shot lifts Newton to a 1-0 triumph

FORT DODGE — Emily Valtman wasn’t expecting to see anything to hit.

Then came the changeup.

“I was really excited,” she said. “I saw it coming in slow, and I waited on it.”

Valtman hit a home run to left-center field with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning to give 10th-ranked Newton a 1-0 Class 4A quarterfinal win over No. 11 Cedar Rapids Xavier at the state softball tournament Tuesday afternoon at the Rogers Sports Complex.

“I was just thinking base hit, get a rally started,” said Valtman, who started it, all right — and finished it.

Newton (25-7) is making its first state appearance in 32 years. The Cardinals move on and will face No. 2 Adel ADM (34-7) in a semifinal at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Valtman’s homer — her eighth this season — snapped a nine-game winning streak by the Saints (25-17), and ended a 26 2/3-inning scoreless streak by Xavier pitcher Maria Steffen.

“I thought I had her where I wanted her,” Steffen said. “I went high and inside before that, and I thought that was a good pitch, but she squared up on it.”

Xavier will meet Dallas Center-Grimes (18-23) in a consolation game at 11:30 Wednesday morning.

It wasn’t the kind of game Xavier Coach Nikki Gahring expected.

“I didn’t think it would be 1-0,” she said. “I thought they would score runs. I thought we would score runs. I thought it would be two teams putting a lot of pressure on each other.”

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Valtman doubled in the third inning, then Gahring elected to walk her in the fifth. Gahring pondered it again in the seventh, but Steffen got ahead of her in the count, so the Saints went after her.

“Hats off to (Valtman),” Gahring said. “She took a big cut, and it paid off.”

Both teams threatened in the first inning, getting two runners on base. Keera Ball and Olivia Richards singled for the Saints, but Charlotte Richards flew out to end the threat.

Cam Kauffman reached on an error in the second and advanced to second base with one out. That was the last time a Xavier player reached scoring position.

Twelve of Xavier’s 21 outs were flyouts.

“(Newton pitcher Peyton Maher) had pretty decent speed, and we were just under it most of the game,” said Charlotte Richards, who flew out three times. “They had some good hits, especially that one at the end.”

Olivia Richards had two of Xavier’s three hits.

NEWTON 1, CEDAR RAPIDS XAVIER 0

Class 4A State Quarterfinal, at Fort Dodge

C.R. Xavier 000 000 0 — 0 3 0

Newton 000 000 1 — 1 5 1

(One out when winning run scored)

Maria Steffen and Olivia Richards. Peyton Maher and Kennedy Leiker. W — Peyton Maher (14-3). L — Steffen (22-12). HR — NEW: Emily Valtman (8).

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

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