MOUNT VERNON - History has been something the Anamosa softball team has been making each of the last two summers.
Last year when the Raiders reached the class 3A regional championship game against West Liberty, it was the first time the program had advanced that far since 1996.
This year, Anamosa once again was on the cusp of playing in Fort Dodge, making a second straight regional finals appearance at Mount Vernon Monday, July 20.
Only one other time in program history had the Raiders been a win away from a state tournament berth in back-to-back seasons, and that was 25 years ago when Anamosa advanced to Fort Dodge in 1995 and 1996.
Having some experience following their loss in West Liberty last season, Anamosa softball coach Brad Holub was hopeful 2020 could be the year his team breaks through and makes that elusive trip to state as the eighth-ranked Raiders looked to knock off the host and fifth-ranked Mustangs.
Once again, it just wasn’t meant to be as Anamosa closed another phenomenal summer of softball with an agonizing 12-3 defeat.
“This is hard, so hard to feel like this two years in a row,” said a tearful Anamosa senior Kalli Minger, who closed her career as one of the greatest Raider softball pitchers of all-time.
“I think we were much more ready to play this regional final game than we were last year at West Liberty, and we tried to give it our all, but the little mistakes we made throughout this game all added up, and in the end cost us a trip to state.”
A year ago, it was West Liberty who jumped all over the Raiders with a huge first inning rally, and immediately set the tone. Monday night in Mount Vernon, the exact same thing happened, as Mustang senior Nicole Sullivan jacked a first inning three-run home run, and the hosts were off and running.
“That home run was a big blow,” said Anamosa softball coach Brad Holub, as his team fell into an 8-0 hole before rallying in the fourth inning.
“We needed to be the team to come out and set the tone and score some early runs, and once again we were not able to do that. The big moment just seems to escape us right now, and I do not want this to become a trend with this program, being the team that can reach the big game but is not ready to make the big plays to get over the hump and make it to state. I’m so proud of these girls for everything they’ve accomplished, they’ve done some things here that haven’t been done in a long time, but we need to learn how to win games like these. Tonight, we made errors we don’t normally make and overall were just too tentative, and once again it cost us.”
Mount Vernon added five huge runs in the third inning to lead 8-0 before the Raiders went to work in the fourth plating three runs as Ellie Tallman and Joslin Banowetz both singled and scored thanks to RBIs from Lexi Bright, Minger and Kylie Chapman.
Maggie Wagner, pinch running for Emily Watters who was hit by a pitch, also scored in the frame.
“We had a chance there to get a few more runs in that inning, but we left the bases loaded,” Holub said. “I think if we can get that down to an 8-5 or 8-6 game, things might have been different.”
Mount Vernon was able to get a few of those runs back plating single runs in the fourth and fifth frames before adding two in the sixth to extend their advantage to nine runs.
“We’ve accomplished a lot the last two years, and we should be proud of that,” Minger said. “We’ve always been a team who has supported each other no matter what, and everyone is going to need that support right now. I know the juniors will step up next year and hopefully be able to make it to state, but for the seniors (Minger, Tallman, Autumn Kirby, Jordyn Erickson and Maggie McQuillen), this being our last game in an Anamosa softball uniform, it hurts.”
Minger worked the game’s first three innings before Holub called on Watters to throw the final three in the circle as the Mustang offense rapped 16 hits to advance to the state tournament.
Anamosa bats were held to five hits overall, one each from Tallman, Banowetz, Lubben, Bright and Chapman.
The Raiders close the 2020 campaign with a 13-2 overall record.