FORT DODGE — “Yesterday is over and today is a new day. We were dealt these cards and we’re going to capitalize off the opportunities. The game plan doesn’t change. We still play Lynnville-Sully softball,” senior catcher Becca Vos said following a 3-2 win in the bottom of the seventh inning Wednesday.
Vos and her teammates did indeed play Lynnville-Sully softball Wednesday in the consolation bracket of the 2014 Iowa Class 1A State Softball Tournament. The Hawks won back-to-back fifth-place trophies by claiming two one-run victories at Harlan and Hazel Rogers Park.
“We’ve talked all season long about having guts and determination and how we have to have it to win ballgames,” Lynnville-Sully head coach Stacey Alberts said. “This is a great example of having guts and determination. The girls rose up and got it done and it as a lot of fun to see.”
Drama on the softball field, we had. Both wins were of the come-from-behind variety for the Hawks. There were key plays in each game that allowed Lynnville-Sully to stay in the games.
To reach the fifth-place contest, Lynnville-Sully had to get past the Marquette Catholic Mohawks in a consolation semifinal. The Hawks trailed 2-1 after four innings, but came up with the tying run in the fifth.
With two gone, Madison Rasmusson got a hit to drop between the shortstop and left fielder and went to second on a passed ball. Kasiah Ehresman had a bunt single. A throwing error to third base allowed Rasmusson to score.
Tied at 2-2, the Hawks went to work in the bottom of the seventh inning. Kristal Beyer singled to shallow left field, then courtesy runner Haley James took over on the base paths. She stole second. With one out, Rasmusson launched a fly ball to the center field fence.
“It felt good when I hit it and I really thought it had a chance of going out,” Rasmusson said. “But a double did the job.”
Haley James raced home for the winning run in a 3-2 victory.
An early key play in that game came in the first inning. Lynnville-Sully’s Riley Rockwell made a running catch with her back to the infield almost to the fence in right field. Her catch robbed Nicole Blum of a hit and was the second out of the frame.
Following a two-hour rest, the Hawks were back on the field for the fifth-place contest against the Wayne Falcons of Corydon. The Falcons manufactured a run in the fifth inning to go up 1-0.
Lynnville-Sully answered in the sixth. Shelby Davis doubled to left center field and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Becca Vos. Jade Van Rees reached on a fielder’s choice as Davis scored.
After seven full innings, the teams were knotted at 1-1. Consolation games go to the international tiebreaker — a runner is placed at second at the start of each team’s at-bat.
“We felt good about that situation,” Alberts said about the tiebreaker system. “They (Wayne) did a good job keeping us from scoring the first time through. We did a good job the second time through, executing it when we had the opportunity.”
Each team moved the runner to third base in the eighth inning, but did not score.
In the top of the ninth. Van Rees was the runner at second for the Hawks. Senior first baseman Shaylin Lukehart delivered an RBI single to right field. Lukehart was tagged out trying to go to second on the play.
Rasmusson, the Hawks’ junior pitcher, survived being hit in the left side by a hard smash by Breanna Fortune in the third inning. She faced Fortune with one out and a runner at third base. Fortune bunted.
“It was a nice bunt and I knew if I threw it to first, they were going to score. So, I just turned around and dived for her. I know I got her,” Vos, senior catcher, said of the play at the plate, cutting down Dally Veach.
“That was a game-saver right there,” Alberts said. “That’s the type of play you believe your seniors are going to give you.”
A ground ball to Van Rees, senior second baseman, resulted in a force out at second as she tossed the ball to Davis covering the base. The celebration erupted for the Hawks.
“We had to work really hard to get the win, but we came up with it. This is great,” Lukehart said. “It’s fun to end our senior season on two wins. I’m going to miss these girls a lot.”
Van Rees said it was emotional for her knowing it was her last softball game.
“It’s always good to end on a win. It was a good day,” Van Rees said.
Beyer, the Hawks’ senior left fielder, had a key hit for her team in the first win of the day. She squeezed a snow-cone catch of a line drive to left field by Wayne’s Veach in the fourth of the fifth-place game.
“He said ‘set earlier,’” Beyer said when asked what assistant coach Scott Alberts talked to her about before her at-bat to open the seventh inning against Marquette Catholic. “If I set myself earlier, I hit better. It worked and I hit a good pitch. Not until we won did I look at it as ‘Hey, I did that.’”
Beyer said it was disappointing that the team didn’t realize its dream of walking away with a state championship. She said taking fifth for the second straight year means a lot.
“This is my favorite team and we are a family. I wouldn’t have wanted to spend it with anyone else,” Beyer added.
For senior Rachel Van Wyk, the last four years have been a great ride. Van Wyk didn’t see much playing time for the Hawks. She went out and helped warm-up the outfielders during the state tournament games.
“It means a lot to me — playing with a great group of girls,” Van Wyk said. “We’ve worked so hard to get to where we have been the past four years. I couldn’t be more proud of my team.”
The players had a meeting under a shade tree before their first game Wednesday.
“After our loss yesterday (Tuesday to Kee), we came out to make the best of the situation,” Vos said. “We did that today. We won two games. This is amazing and I wouldn’t have wanted to go out on a loss.”
Vos and Rasmusson have been battery mates for four years. Rasmusson is the workhorse in the pitching circle for the Hawks.
“Yes, I do get tired,” Rasmusson said. “I’m used to long days of softball from ASA play and I work on my arm in the off-season. I think I pitched every inning, but maybe three, this season for the team.”
Rasmusson, who is 36-2 just like the Hawks’ record for the season, said the ball that hit her in the side did hurt. She said she was wondering if she broke a rib.
“I was crying, but trying to calm down to see if everything was OK. Everything was,” she said.
The next inning she battled Wayne’s Brennan Banks, who fouled off pitch after pitch. Rasmusson said she thought it was a 14-pitch at-bat by Banks.
“I was having fun with it. I wasn’t giving up or giving her a ball she could hit solid,” Rasmusson said.
All said and done, the Hawks had four hits in the game against Wayne. Lukehart had two singles while Davis doubled and Rasmusson had a single. Rasmusson allowed 10 hits, walked two and struck out eight.
In the win over Marquette Catholic, Rasmusson held the Mohawks to five hits and had two strikeouts. She also hit a double and a single. Ehresman hit two singles. Davis, Brenna Lanser and Beyer had a single apiece.
“Madison on the mound today was phenomenal all day long,” Alberts said. “To face the two teams of this caliber, take a shot off her side as she did, just shows how competitive Madison is. We had great senior leadership all season. This was a great day.”
Rasmusson called a timeout with two gone in the ninth inning of the fifth-place game.
“It was the last time we’d meet together like that. It was exciting. I just knew we were going to get the final out,” Rasmusson said. “We fell short of the dream of a state championship, but all of us are happy with what we accomplished. It means a lot for the whole team, our parents and family members and all of our supporters.
“Becca and I came to state when I was an eighth-grader and she was a freshman. She’s been my catcher. It’s great that we started here together at a state tournament and we ended it here at state.”