ANAMOSA - It’s not often when two state-ranked teams get together and the main objective isn’t about winning the game.
Don’t get me wrong, both class 3A fourth-ranked Anamosa and visiting class 2A 10th-ranked Northeast knew what their jobs were when they showed up to play Thursday, June 25, but when the Rebels arrived and began warming up, they let everyone know where their hearts were.
With Raider senior Maggie McQuillen.
“Northeast showed up in ‘Moving 4 Maggie’ t-shirts and it was an amazing sights to see,” said Anamosa softball coach Brad Holub, as Raider hearts have been with McQuillen since her horrific car accident back in March that left her with serious brain injuries, and throughout her unbelievable recovery.
“What an absolute class program Northeast is, to show that kind of respect for an opposing player is amazing, and what a tribute to Maggie as a player and as a person. This just goes to show the respect that teams have for her and what she’s been through. This was a night I’ll never forget.”
McQuillen was at the game and posed for pictures with the Northeast team in their Moving 4 Maggie shirts as well as with her Anamosa teammates.
The actual game proved to be pretty emotional as well, as the Raiders held on for a thrilling 3-2 victory in front of a big crowd.
“We were on top of our game from beginning to end,” Holub said. “This was a really clean game played between two very good teams. Northeast is a very good hitting team and Kalli (Minger) pitched really well and for the most part was able to limit Northeast’s opportunities.”
Anamosa (5-1) was able to make an instant statement as well plating two first inning runs as Ellie Tallman led off with a double before Grace Lubben singled. After Minger reached on a fielder’s choice that plated Tallman with the game’s first run, Lexi Bright singled in pinch runner Maggie Wagner.
“That was exactly the kind of start we needed and gave something for Kalli to work with,” Holub said. “She went out and did her job and we got a big win.”
After Northeast plated a run in the top of the third, the Raiders went back to work in the fifth when Mady Meeker reached on an error and pinch runner Rylee Wickham scored thanks to an RBI sacrifice from Lubben.
Leading 3-1 with just an inning to play, Northeast’s Madison Kluever drilled a one-out solo home run to trim the Rebel’s deficit to a single run, but Minger was able to coax a pair of fly balls to end the game.
Minger was sensational striking out five Northeast batters while scattering six hits with two walks while Anamosa bats were held to three hits, all coming in the opening inning.
The Raiders looked to get the offense going in Tipton Friday, June 26, and while it may have taken a little longer than they would have hoped, the team rolled to a 13-0 blowout win over the Tigers.
“The final score was about what we expected, but what we didn’t expect was for that final score to come in seven innings,” Holub said. “We were hoping this would be a four or five inning game, but Tipton, to their credit, made us work.”
Leading 1-0 in the second, Lubben connected for the first of her two home runs on the night as the Raiders showed off the power in the final frame as well. Both Lubben and teammate Emily Watters blasted softballs over the fence as Anamosa blew the game open scoring four times in the inning.
“We showed we’ve got some pop on this team,” Holub said. “Three home runs in one night is pretty special, and something else you don’t see very often is a pitcher facing the minimum amount of batters, and that’s what Kalli did.”
Minger allowed just one Tiger hit, a fifth-inning single, but that runner was erased on a 1-6-3 double play. The Raider senior pitcher fanned nine Tipton batters without issuing a walk while her defense also played flawlessly.
Anamosa bats ripped 15 hits led by three from Tallman and Minger, while Lubben and Watters came through with two more each.
The week started with a lopsided 11-2 victory hosting Cascade Tuesday, June 23.
A five-run first, keyed by hits from Anamosa’s first five batters (Tallman, Lubben, Minger, Watters and Bright) sparked the rout as the hosts added four more runs in the fourth and two more in the fifth.
“We didn’t play that well, but to be able to win 11-2 when not playing that well is a plus,” Holub said. “I was hoping that we’d be able to end the game in the fifth, but not only were we not able to do that, it wound up going all seven innings. Not a very clean game by our standards, but it was a win, and in the end that’s all that matters.”
Anamosa tallied a whopping 16 hits, powered by four from Lubben who tallied two triples while Tallman and Watters each ripped three hits.
Minger tossed an eight-hitter without issuing a walk and fanned six.