MANCHESTER — When you’re the overwhelming favorite, you do what the West Delaware softball team did Tuesday night. You score right away.
That’s exactly what the second-ranked Hawks did in their 8-2 win over Washington (Iowa) in a Class 4A regional final. They got a pair in the first inning, enabling them to relax and go from there. From here, West Delaware (21-4) will go to Fort Dodge for the state tournament next week.
“I don’t want to say it makes you feel more comfortable,” said winning pitcher Macey Kleitsch. “But scoring right away gets you into the game more, so you feel like you don’t have as much pressure on you. At the same time, too, you can focus more on getting more (runs) instead of being nervous about having to get some. It felt great starting off like that. Helped the intensity on our side, too.”
Kleitsch began the bottom of the first with a double to left-center field, going to third base on a bunt and scoring on Eve Wedewer’s one-out infield single. She stole second and eventually came across on a bases-loaded walk to Alissa Holtz.
That’s a great way to allow everyone to settle in.
“Yeah, it felt like a little bit of pressure,” Wedewer said. “But at the same time, not really. We just thought we were ready. We went out there and played our game.”
This is the second straight appearance at state for the Hawks, who placed fourth last season. For Washington (10-18), it was the end of an unexpected playoff run.
The Demons went 2-8 in their last 10 regular-season games but knocked off Grinnell and Clear Creek Amana to get to this point. They never quit here, either, even after getting down 5-0 through five innings.
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Washington finally got to Kleitsch in the sixth, scoring twice and bringing the tying run to the plate. Kellie Dallmeyer had two of Washington’s five hits in the game.
“Had you told me a week ago we’d be in this position, I definitely would have signed up for that,” said Washington Coach Ben Obermann. “We hit the reset button when the postseason started. You’ve got to give our girls a lot of credit. We believed in ourselves. We believed tonight. We gave ourselves a shot, and that’s all you can ask for in this game against a really, really good team in West Delaware. No team in Class 4A is hotter than them. But we battled.”
West Delaware scored three insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. Wedewer went 3-for-3 with a pair of RBIs for a team that is second in the class in team batting average.
The Hawks have won 15 in a row.
“Whenever we get to the games, we don’t want to look at our record, their record. It’s 0-0,” Kleitsch said. “Overall, we just need to focus on our game, every pitch, every play ... Great to play over there (in Fort Dodge), great to be back.”
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