Prep Softball

Iowa high school softball: It's time for crossing fingers, holding breath - and social distancing

A positive COVID-19 test now means the end of the season; 5 teams have shut down

Cedar Rapids Kennedy head coach Maddison LeClere applauds her players during Monday's doubleheader sweep of Linn-Mar. Th
Cedar Rapids Kennedy head coach Maddison LeClere applauds her players during Monday’s doubleheader sweep of Linn-Mar. The Cougars are 15-1 and ranked No. 3 in Class 5A. But, like everybody else, they’re also one positive COVID-19 test away from the season coming to an abrupt end. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

Monday night was Senior Night for the Cedar Rapids Kennedy softball team. But the postgame was less about celebration than sanitization.

Two assistant coaches sat on upside-down buckets, cleaning softballs for the next game.

Ranked No. 3 in Class 5A and the holder of a 15-1 record, Kennedy has a special team. But, like everybody else, the Cougars are one positive COVID-19 test away from postseason extinction.

“We talk about it here, and the girls go home and talk about it with their parents,” Kennedy Coach Maddison LeClere said. “One of our themes this year is quaran-TEAM. We talk about being strong together and reducing exposure due to unnecessary things.”

As of noon Wednesday, five softball teams in Iowa — Bellevue, Des Moines East, North Tama, Saydel and West Des Moines Dowling — have seen their seasons shut down for good because of a positive test within their programs and the mandated 14-day suspension that goes with it.

If a player is exposed to the virus and tests negative, that player must quarantine for 14 days, and the rest of the team is able to play on. That scenario has played out regularly; several Mississippi Valley Conference softball programs have been subjected to that fate.

The postseason begins Monday in Class 1A and 2A, Wednesday in 3A, Thursday in 4A and 5A. So pardon coaches and players for some frayed nerves.

“You keep seeing stuff about teams shutting down, and your heart goes out to them,” West Delaware Coach Tiffany Rave said. “A, that they have to go through it, and B, that they have to go through it now.

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“The girls are probably sick of me being the one to say it over and over, but they need to be practicing social distancing. Not all of it is controllable, but some of it is. We want to do whatever we can to still be playing ball in a few weeks.”

Hannah Bridgewater, Ayana Lindsey top state charts

North Linn’s Hannah Bridgewater leads the state in stolen bases, with 30 through Tuesday.

Bridgewater is No. 4 in runs scored, with 35.

Iowa City High’s Ayana Lindsey is the state leader in slugging percentage, at 1.366. Lindsey sports a batting average of .561 (23 of 41), with five doubles, two triples and eight home runs.

North Linn and City High both lead the state in multiple team stats. The Lynx are No. 1 in runs (230) and run differential (plus-205). The Little Hawks are tops in home runs (30) and slugging percentage (.699).

Jesup leads the state in batting average (.431), on-base percentage (.511) and fewest strikeouts (20), and Lisbon’s pitching staff is the state leader in walks issued (five).

Midland snaps streak

When Midland defeated Easton Valley 7-0 Monday, it marked the Eagles’ first shutout victory since they blanked Andrew in 2010.

Sophomore Rashelle Cole went the distance, giving up three hits, striking out four and walking two.

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

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