After falling one game short of the state tournament last year, the Waukee softball team got over the hump this season and defeated Ankeny in the regional finals in Ankeny on Tuesday by as score of 6-1. The Warriors will compete at the state tournament next week, with their first game being against Johnston on Monday at Rogers Park in Fort Dodge.
The game was never in much doubt as the Warriors had a 6-0 lead going into the bottom of the sixth inning, where Ankeny was able to put one run up on the board, but the Warriors were able to hold the Hawks off.
Kaitlyn Menz had nine strikeouts and two walks while giving up four hits and just the one earned run, picking up the win, her 15th of the season.
Claire Dudek was 2-for-4 with a double, a stolen base and two runs scored. Shaye Witte, the Warriors’ center fielder, was 2-for-3 in the game with an RBI and one run scored.
In their first game of the regional tournament, the Warriors played a nail biter against Waterloo West on July 12 in Waukee. The Warriors lost the lead in the top of the seventh inning, but a two-run homerun by freshman Morgan Nealey lifted the Warriors to a 5-4 win over the Wahawks.
Nealey only needed one word to describe how the game-winning homerun felt: "Fantastic."
Nealey was 2-for-4 in the game with two RBIs.
"She was due," said Waukee coach Carrie Embree after the game. "It was one of those things where she saw the ball. She’s been seeing the ball pretty well lately so she went up and took a hack and did a nice job."
The Warriors took a 3-1 lead with an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning, but it looked like their chances of advancing might be in jeopardy in the top of the seventh when the Wahawks started getting hits. The Wahawks tied the game, and then on a throwing error to first base by Waukee catcher Taylor Luther, the Wahawks scored the go-ahead run, which set up the dramatic finish for Nealey and the Warriors in the bottom of the seventh.
"They started getting Kate’s (Menz) timing down a little bit and so they had some nice hits, which we kind of expected," Embree said. "They’re a good team. They’re a very solid, fundamental team… They had some timely hits."
The Warriors will begin competing for the state championship on Monday against Johnston in Fort Dodge at Rogers Park on Mittera Field. Their first-round game will begin at 7 p.m.
If they win, they will play in the semifinals at INS Field in Fort Dodge at 3:30 p.m. on July 24. The championship game is on July 25 at Mittera Field in Fort Dodge at 7 p.m.