ANAMOSA - Taking care of their business through the season’s first nine games, the Anamosa softball team had rarely been tested usually rolling to blowout triumphs.
The Raiders were looking forward to much tougher tests, and got it this past week playing three state-ranked teams, including class 3A eighth-ranked West Liberty in the championship game of Anamosa’s own invitational Saturday, June 8.
“We knew this was going to be a big week for us playing class 2A eighth ranked Wilton, fifth-ranked Iowa City Regina and class 3A eighth-ranked West Liberty all in a matter of a few days,” said Raider softball coach Brad Holub, as his team had strung 15 straight wins together to open the campaign, the longest streak the program has had since Anamosa made back-to-back state tournament appearances in 1995 and 1996.
“We were hoping we’d get to face West Liberty in our championship game and that’s exactly what played out. We just wish the ending could have been a little different. Other than that though, it was a great game.”
Anamosa (15-1, 7-0), who cracked into the class 3A state rankings themselves at No. 12, rallied from a 5-0 seventh inning deficit to force extra frames with the Comets, only to come up on the short end of a 7-5 final in nine wild innings.
“I was so impressed the way the girls battled back,” Holub said. “We had the fight I wanted to see against one of the best teams in the state. To come back and force extra innings against a pitcher of the calibre of West Liberty’s shows just how much talent we have on our team.
“These girls will never quit, in any situation.”
Isabelle True, who led Louisa-Muscatine to the class 2A state championship last summer and is one of the top pitchers in the state, transferred to West Liberty this season and was met with five seventh inning runs from the Raiders when Alexa Jess, Maggie McQuillen, Autumn Kirby, Lexi Bright and Emily Watters all crossed the plate in the Raider Invitational title tilt.
“We had the game-winning run in scoring position, too,” Holub said. “We just couldn’t get that one more hit to get her home.”
Anamosa had two runners on base in the eighth and ninth innings, but could not score before the Comets tallied two in the top of the ninth to take the championship, and hand the Raiders their first loss of the 2019 campaign.
“We had several chances to score early in the game but struggled with that big hit at the right time,” Holub said. “But when I challenged the girls in the seventh, they sure responded. How were we going to go down? With a roar or a whimper? They sure made some noise.”
West Liberty led 5-0 after scoring a single run in the first followed by two in the second and fourth frames.
Raider bats ripped 10 hits off True led by two each from Grace Lubben, Jessie Frasher and Kirby.
Kalli Minger worked all nine frames in the pitchers’ circle for the hosts fanning six Comet batters while allowing 13 hits.
“Kalli was an absolute warrior,” Holub said. “She got off to a slow start but kept us in it by throwing four straight shutout innings against a very good offensive team in West Liberty.”
Anamosa opened their tournament with a lopsided 14-3 rout against Cedar Rapids Washington plating eight runs in the bottom of the top of sixth to pull away.
“This game wasn’t pretty,” Holub said. “After we scored three times in the top of the first, we gave them three unearned runs in the bottom half and just did not look very sharp at all defensively.”
The Raiders got things going in the semi-final taking a 6-2 decision over Maquoketa as a four-run bottom of the fourth broke a 2-2 tie in the five-inning contest.
A Jessie Frasher two-run home run in the first inning ignited the Anamosa offense against the Cardinals as the senior and eighth grader Emily Watters led a 15-hit Raider offense with three hits each.
Watters tossed a two-hitter in the circle.
Anamosa hosted class 2A fifth-ranked Iowa City Regina Thursday, June 6, and rallied for a huge 3-2 eight-inning victory.
“Regina has a really good pitcher (Katie Bracken) who going to Minnesota State, and early on she had us off balance,” Holub said. “But we made some adjustments and got to her in the fourth.”
Ellie Tallman and Kirby each crossed the plate in the fourth before the Regals knotted the score with two of their own in the sixth.
Kirby opened the bottom of the eighth with a single and scored the game-winning run thanks to an RBI walk-off double off the bat of Tallman.
Tallman’s two hits led the Anamosa offense while Minger worked all eight frames and struck out 10 Iowa City Regina batters.
The state-ranked tests began Tuesday, June 4, at class 2A eighth-ranked Wilton, and the Raiders proved more than up to the task cruising to a 10-0, six-inning rout.
Frasher set the tone early launching a three-run first inning home run and Anamosa never looked back.
Frasher’s three hits led a 15-hit Raider offense while Watters, Lubben, Minger and Kylie Chapman all added two hits.
The week opened with 14-2 and 16-3 blowout wins hosting Bellevue Monday, June 3.
The first game ended in just three innings before the nightcap wrapped up in a mere four.
Anamosa bats tallied a total of 22 hits in the two games that also included a two-run home run from Frasher that ended the finale in walk-off style with the 13-run differential.