Prep Softball

Iowa City High returns to state softball tournament after 17 years

Youthful Little Hawks edge Linn-Mar, 4-2, in a 5A regional final

Iowa City High's Ella Cook (right, facing camera) and her teammates wave the state-qualifier banner after the Little Hawks defeated Linn-Mar, 4-2, in a Class 5A softball regional final Tuesday at City High. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Iowa City High's Ella Cook (right, facing camera) and her teammates wave the state-qualifier banner after the Little Hawks defeated Linn-Mar, 4-2, in a Class 5A softball regional final Tuesday at City High. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The playlist here included Journey’s 1980s hit “Only The Young.”

Fitting. Oh, so fitting.

It wasn’t just another night in any town, but the Iowa City High softball team is ahead of its time.

State tournament

Forty Iowa high school softball teams will make their way to Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge next week for the 2018 state tournament.

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Ella Cook’s two-run double in the sixth inning snapped a 2-2 draw, and the Little Hawks defeated Linn-Mar, 4-2, in a Class 5A softball regional final Tuesday night at City High.

“Everybody dreams of that moment,” Cook said. “We’ve talked about this since fourth grade, and it’s so nice to see it come true.”

City High (24-18) advances to the state tournament for the third time, the first since 2001. The Little Hawks will face No. 1 Pleasant Valley (33-7) in a first-round game at 5 p.m. next Tuesday.

The Spartans are defending state champions and split with the Little Hawks in a doubleheader May 26.

“This feels incredible,” said City Coach Jeff Koenig, the architect of the Little Hawks’ emergence. “To get to the state tournament ... we’re ahead of where I thought we’d be at this point."

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City’s starting lineup card Tuesday consisted of two juniors, three sophomores, three freshmen and an eighth-grader. One of those freshmen, pitcher Ayana Lindsey, is the daughter of Erin Whiting, shortstop on the 2001 team.

“She’s always told me it’s super fun, the environment out there is great,” Lindsey said. “I knew we could do it if we kept pushing through.”

Linn-Mar finished 23-20. The Lions pulled an upset in the regional semifinals at second-ranked Cedar Rapids Kennedy, but came up a little short Tuesday.

“Our seniors came up and loaded the bases (in the seventh) and gave us a chance,” Lions Coach John Begley said. “You can’t ask for more than that.”

Regional roundup

The 2018 Iowa high school softball state tournament field�was completed Tuesday night as regional finals take place in the larger two classes.

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Sydney Fellows’ two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning put City High in front, then the Lions got a run back on Elly Schuemann’s single in the third. The ball hit the top of the center-field fence; once more inch, and it would have been a three-run homer.

Mariam Berry’s RBI single in the sixth tied it at 2-2, setting the stage for Cook’s heroics.

Brooke Bormann and Alexa Fredericks wedged a pair of infield singles around Brianna Bentler’s walk to load the bases with no outs. A strikeout and a pop out followed, then Cook laced the tie-breaking hit to the left-field fence.

With two outs in the seventh, Linn-Mar’s Ariana Rolle walked, Ally Johnson reached on an error and Schuemann was intentionally walked.

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Katie Smith’s hard liner was gloved by second baseman Keli Potter, and the Little Hawks were state bound.

Then, jubilation. You could hear the thunder of their cry.

IOWA CITY HIGH 4, LINN-MAR 2

Class 5A Regional Final, at City High

Linn-Mar 001 001 0 — 2 8 0

Iowa City High 200 002 x — 4 10 4

Katie Smith and Charli Patten. Ayana Lindsey and Carey Koenig. W — Lindsey (12-10). L — Smith (15-17). HR — ICH: Sydney Fellows (7).

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

 

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