ANAMOSA - Members of the Anamosa softball team talked about it before the start of the 2020 campaign.
After coming so close to advancing to the state tournament in 2019, they sorely wanted another shot at making it to Fort Dodge this summer, as well as accomplishing several other goals along the way.
With the COVID-19 shortened season now in the books, it’s pretty safe to say the Raiders accomplished just about everything they wanted.
Just about everything.
“We wanted to make it to the state tournament, too, and while we came up short of that goal we were still able to accomplish a lot of amazing things this summer,” said Raider senior Kalli Minger, who was a huge part of the Anamosa softball resurgence over the past couple of seasons.
“It hurts not being able to play at the state tournament. That’s something I’ve dreamed of for a long time, and to come so close, twice, is kind of tough to take. But I know with the girls they have coming back next year they’ll get that accomplished. We showed them the way, now they just need to take that one extra step.”
Anamosa had another amazing season finishing with a 13-2 overall record while claiming their second straight River Valley Conference North division championship (though considered unofficial by the league this summer due to the shortened schedule) posting a 6-0 mark against divisional foes while going 11-1 overall against league opponents (the best record in the conference).
“These girls have absolutely nothing to hang their heads about,” said Raider softball coach Brad Holub. “We all wanted to make it to the state tournament and we made another really good run at it. We were hoping the second time would be the charm, now we’ll prepare to take another shot at it next season. We have a lot of talented girls back, too.”
However, the program does lose one phenomenal senior class in Minger, Ellie Tallman, Autumn Kirby, Jordyn Erickson and Maggie McQuillen.
McQuillen, who missed her entire senior season after being involved in a horrific car accident back in March that nearly took her life, would have been an enormous addition to the team. McQuillen made amazing progress over the past few months and while she wasn’t able to take the field in 2020, she was an inspiration for everyone all summer long and regularly attended games.
Tallman closed one of the greatest Anamosa softball careers in school history hitting .571 this past summer, and will take her talents to Minnesota State University next spring as a member of the D-II Mavericks softball program.
Minger, one of the greatest pitchers in program history, and that’s saying something given the history of the pitching position in Anamosa, was outstanding this past summer logging a 12-1 overall record throwing 89 innings in the circle with 113 strikeouts, 1.34 earned run average and had near pin-point control all season long issuing a mere 20 walks while holding opposing batters to a .178 average.
Kirby, who worked her way up through the system, broke into the varsity lineup as a junior last summer and stayed there again this season as a senior hitting a solid .311.
Erickson proved a valuable role player and pinch-runner in 2020 scoring six times in her nine games played.
While what the Raider program loses in considerable, the team does return starters in freshmen Emily Watters and Joslin Banowetz as well as juniors Grace Lubben, Kyle Chapman, Lexi Bright and Delaney Frater.
Sophomore Maddie Meeker as well as freshmen Maggie Wagner, Maya Ludwig and Ava Scranton all saw key action at the varsity level as well.
While Minger has handled the main pitching duties each of the past several summers, Watters and Meeker look to take over in 2021. Watters tallied five innings pitched with a 0.00 ERA allowing a mere two hits while fanning 13. Meeker started the final game of the regular season and tossed two frames finishing with a 3.50 earned run average.
“We’ve got a lot of experience back everywhere, but it’s going to be tough to replace those seniors,” Holub said. “That was a special class who accomplished a lot in their careers.”
While Watters could very well take over in the pitchers’ circle next summer, her bat was already amazing this summer hitting .532 (second to Tallman on the team) with two home runs, 18 RBIs and seven doubles.
Lubben also turned in a huge campaign hitting .468 with a team-high five home runs (tied for eighth in all of class 3A).
Bright (.385) and Banowetz (.325) also hit above .300 and return in 2021 as the Raiders look to maintain their spot among the best teams in the River Valley Conference.
“That’s the plan,” Holub said. “We’ve built a very successful program here, now we want to maintain it for years and years to come.”