IOWA CITY — The West High Women of Troy came up short again in their quest for a trip to the State Softball Tournament in Fort Dodge after losing 6-2 Wednesday evening at home against Des Moines Lincoln.
The post-season campaign started Monday, July 11, with a home field battle against Cedar Rapids Xavier in a Regional Semifinal. West disposed of the Saints 7-1.
The Saints knocked the Women of Troy out of state contention last year in the regional final and split with West earlier in the season.
The Saints threatened in the first inning by loading up the bases, but only brought one runner home in a three-hit effort.
“It was very important we didn’t lose our composure,” Coach Jeff Kelley said of the full bases. The coach said the keys to escaping the predicament came to pitcher Mackenzie Laux making good pitches, and the West defense making routine plays. “Realistically, the majority of the plays are routine, however the do-or-die mentality of regional play adds a mental strain.”
A big out at home plate and a well-timed strike-out from Laux retired the Saints. West’s first at-bats saw a three-up, three-down situation for Tatum Klein, Brianna Sturtz and Alise Miller.
Both teams were scoreless until the bottom of the fourth when West tied on a Lauren Larson double that went to the fence and scored Sturtz, who led-off with a single.
In the fifth, the Women of Troy went on a six-run rampage.
Danielle Chelf fought her way to a walk and had Jaylinn Tresslar take her place as courtesy runner. Morgan Ryan bunted her way to first and a sacrifice bunt by Mikaela Morgan advanced the runners. Lead-off hitter Klein was intentionally walked, setting the table for Sturtz. The junior came to the plate with bases loaded and only one out, and belted-out a two-RBI single.
“Coach (Kelley) said the pressure was on them, and to just let the ball come to me,” Sturtz said afterward. Her hit went down the left field line over the head of the Xavier left-fielder. “I thought she was going to catch it.”
Miller drove in two more runs with a double, and Shelly Stumpff smacked a two-run homer down the left field line. As the Women of Troy celebrated at home plate, Xavier changed pitchers from Jacey Wiebold to Erin Drahozal.
“We knew our time would come,” Sturtz said of the big inning. Kelley expected it, but sooner in the game.
“I felt we were capable of scoring” the coach said, adding he had told the ladies “we should score at least four runs.” He said the team had to adjust to Wiebold’s style and watched Xavier’s game last Saturday.
When play resumed, Larson’s pop-up was caught on the right field line for the second out. Michaela Recker singled and had Grace Tafolla come in as her courtesy runner. Tafolla was caught trying to steal second, ending the inning. Laux struck-out four of the next seven batters to secure the win.
Wednesday evening, Des Moines Lincoln took a 6-2 win, earning a trip to Fort Dodge and leaving the Women of Troy once again on the outside looking in. The Railsplitters took a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, digging a deep hole for West to try and climb out of. It wasn’t until the top of the sixth that West was able to put up their two runs.
The Women of Troy closed their season with a 32-10 record.