ANAMOSA - Coming off a tough loss hosting class 3A eighth-ranked West Liberty in a playoff-like atmosphere Thursday, June 18, the fourth-ranked Anamosa softball team needed to quickly get back on track hosting rival Monticello 24-hours later Friday, June 19.
The Raiders exactly that rolling to a resounding 11-2 triumph over the Panthers.
“We really needed this game,” said Anamosa softball coach Brad Holub, as his team used a pair of big three-run frames in the second and third, as well as a four-run fifth to blow the game wide open.
“We were a lot more aggressive at the plate against Monticello than we were just a night earlier against West Liberty. Going into the Monticello game we had 17 strikeouts and just three walks at the plate, but against the Panthers we walked nine times and didn’t strike out even once. It was a huge turnaround from what we had done the previous two games offensively, and made the difference in us being able to pull away from a good Monticello team.”
Grace Lubben got the Anamosa (2-1) offense going ripping a first inning double and came around to score thanks to an RBI double off the bat of Emily Watters.
The second stanza saw more Raider offense, as Kylie Chapman and Autumn Kirby both walked before an Ellie Tallman single loaded the bases. Lubben stepped to the plate and delivered a huge two-out double that cleared the bases and handed the hosts a 4-0 advantage.
They were just getting started.
“Grace had those two doubles and then Monticello decided to intentionally walk her during her next three at-bats,” Holub said. “That’s a very nice confidence-builder for her. She had been struggling a bit to start the season but really showed everyone how she’s capable of swinging the bat. Monticello wanted no part of her with runners on base the rest of the game.”
Watters, Kalli Minger and Maggie Wagner (pinch running for Lexi Bright) all scored in the third inning after Monticello had plated two runs of their own in the top half of the frame.
Holding a 7-2 lead, the Raiders put the game away for good in the fifth as a three-run homer off the bat of Watters keyed a four-run frame that had the hosts in command leading 11-2.
“We made a switch moving Grace from the top of the order and down to the No. 2 spot and put Ellie at leadoff,” Holub said. “It seems to have worked out very well for everyone. Ellie has batted lead-off most of her softball life and she just seems more comfortable there, and this takes a little pressure off of Grace.”
The Anamosa offense was impressive all game long ripping a total of 11 hits, led by three from Watters who had a second inning single to go with the first inning double and fifth inning long ball.
Tallman, Lubben and Kirby all tallied two hits for the Raider offense as well.
Minger was the beneficiary of all the support tossing a four-hitter from the pitchers’ circle fanning eight Monticello batters while allowing a mere four hits in her seven innings of work.
“Rivalry wins are always good, but this was a big game coming off that loss to West Liberty,” Holub said. “Hopefully we can keep this going, there isn’t too much time between now and the post-season. We want to be playing our best softball heading into the playoffs.”
Anamosa was the epicenter of the class 3A Iowa High School softball world Thursday, June 18, as a match-up between two of the top teams in the class ended with the Comets claiming a 5-3 victory.
“I’m not exactly sure why, but we played a little tight after the first inning against West Liberty,” Holub said. “We were doing things that we don’t normally do. We had some base-running errors and some fielding errors. I’m not sure if the girls just got too wrapped up into the heat of the moment. It was a big game with a lot of media there and of course Maggie (McQuillen) was there too. We got off to that good start then we seemed to let things get to us.”
After West Liberty plated two runs in the top of the first, Anamosa answered right back with two of their own in the bottom half as a Tallman double plated teammates Lubben and Delaney Frater, and all of a sudden, the score was quickly tied.
The Comets went back to work in the third plating three runs before the Raiders rallied in the fourth when a Minger ground out scored Tallman.
“We had more chances to score in the fourth and didn’t get the job done and then had the bases loaded in the sixth and couldn’t score,” Holub said. “Those are opportunities you have to take advantage of against good teams and we just couldn’t quite get it done.
“Hopefully, we’ll get another shot at West Liberty later this season. It’s always a great atmosphere for softball when we play them, and I’m sure it will be again. Every pitch just seems to matter more.”
The night was highlighted by the appearance of McQuillen, the Raider senior star who was involved in a serious car accident back in March.
“It was great to see Maggie there,” Holub said. “She led us in our pre-game cheer, it was amazing. Any time she wants to be in the dugout or at practice, she’s welcome. It’s so uplifting for me and for all of the girls to have her there.”
Frater and Tallman paced the six-hit Raider offense coming through with two each while Minger tossed all seven frames in the circle and fanned five while allowing 10 hits and four earned runs.