ANAMOSA — The West Liberty Comets were facing high-velocity pitchers in the first week of the softball season, and Coach Chad Libby planned accordingly.
“We knew we were going to see some fast stuff, so we had the machine up over 60 miles per hour at practice,” Libby said.
That did the trick.
Class 3A eighth-ranked West Liberty struck for all five of its runs — on eight hits — in the first three innings and held off No. 4 Anamosa, 5-3, in a River Valley Conference showdown Thursday night at Anamosa Middle School.
“We really emphasized in practice that we’d be seeing some fast pitchers right away with West Branch and Anamosa,” Comets catcher Austyn Crees said. “We were prepared for it.”
Crees was instrumental in a pair of early multi-run rallies for the Comets (2-0, 2-0 RVC).
In the top of the first inning, she followed Finley Hall’s double with one of her own, then scored on Isabel Morrison’s fielder’s choice.
Anamosa (1-1, 1-1) tied it immediately on Ellie Tallman’s two-run single in the bottom of the first, then West Liberty went back to work.
Crees led off the third with a single, then Sailor Hall added another. After Morrison reached on an error to score a run, Janey Gingerich chased home two more with a single to make it 5-2.
“We made too many mistakes, and we were just playing a little tight,” Anamosa Coach Brad Holub said. “We have a history with them, and we were tight.”
West Liberty eliminated Anamosa in a 3A regional final last year, then finished third at the state tournament.
The Raiders got within 5-3 in the fourth on Kalli Minger’s ground-out RBI, then Libby called on Sailor Hall to pitch the last three innings, and she blanked the Raiders the rest of the way.
“(Gingerich, the starter) and Sailor, there’s not much difference between them,” Crees said. “We wanted to mess with them a little and bring Sailor in. She might be a little faster.
Anamosa had the bases loaded with one out in the sixth, but Hall worked her way out of it, then set down the Raiders in order in the seventh.
WEST LIBERTY 5, ANAMOSA 3
West Liberty 203 000 0 — 5 10 2
Anamosa 200 100 0 — 3 5 1
Janey Gingerich, Sailor Hall (5) and Austyn Crees. Kalli Minger and Lexi Bright. W — Gingerich (2-0). L — Minger (1-1). SV — Hall (1).
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