Van Meter softball wraps up season at state, baseball and softball teams earn district honors

Megan Teske, Correspondent
Special to Dallas County News
Iowa City Regina's Gabby Sueppel, right, reaches first base ahead of the throw to Van Meter's Shea Rhodes on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, during the Iowa high school girls state softball tournament in Fort Dodge.

The Van Meter softball team finished out its season with a win at the state tournament after falling in the quarterfinals.

The Bulldogs took on Regina Catholic on July 19 in the quarterfinals, falling 6-5.

While the team came in prepared, head coach James Flaws said the Bulldogs started to relax after getting up 4-0.

“[Regina Catholic] fought back and they did a good job battling back and we battled also but just didn’t have enough at the end,” Flaws said.

Despite a disappointing loss, Van Meter bounced back July 20 for the consolation game, defeating Mount Ayr 12-3.

Flaws said the game was a great way to send the seniors off with a win and the team played really well.

Members of the Van Meter softball team cheer against Iowa City Regina on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, during the Iowa high school girls state softball tournament in Fort Dodge.

“It was just fun to see our kids play really well after an emotional loss the day before where they bounced back quickly,” Flaws said. “Our program got to the state tournament and now we won a game up there so it makes you feel better about leaving there with a win.”

He added that the Bulldogs were able to rebound after the quarterfinals loss due to the group of players on the team.

Flaws said the team wanted to win to send the seniors off right and since Van Meter has played Mount Ayr before, it knew a little bit about them.

“Just being up there and experiencing that atmosphere and playing in the state tournament, you don’t want to lose, you want to win when you go up there if you can, so I think that was motivation enough,” Flaws said.

With the softball season now drawn to a close, Flaws said he was most proud of how the team stepped up.

Van Meter junior Ella Reimers makes an acrobatic catch near the outfield fence for an out against Iowa City Regina in their Class 2A game on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, during the Iowa high school girls state softball tournament in Fort Dodge.

He said after Van Meter lost to Twin Cedars later in the season, the coaches challenged the players to put the team ahead of individual success.

“I think from that moment on, our girls did a good job of actually doing what was needed for the team rather than what was best for themselves,” Flaws said. “And they played really well down the stretch.”

The Bulldogs will return a large number of players next season, which bodes well for the goals the team will have for next year.

Flaws said Van Meter will be hoping to build off of their finish at state this year and make it farther in the tournament next season.

“I think the motivation will be there to try to get back to that point and then try to advance in the winner’s bracket next time,” Flaws said.

Van Meter pitcher Maia Abrahamson fires a pitch against Iowa City Regina in their Class 2A game on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, during the Iowa high school girls state softball tournament in Fort Dodge.

Though most players will return, the Bulldogs will graduate four seniors in Lilly Prickett, Shea Rhodes, Sami McDonald and Maia Abrahamson.

Flaws said he will miss the leadership the seniors brought to the team each day and how they held everyone accountable.

“They led with their actions more than anything and I know that they took that step this year… they wanted to go to the state tournament, that was really their goal and they kind of got everyone else rallied around that,” Flaws said.

Van Meter junior Macy Blomgren runs the bases after hitting a home run against Iowa City Regina in their Class 2A game on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, during the Iowa high school girls state softball tournament in Fort Dodge.

Van Meter players receive all-district honors

A number of Van Meter players received All-District Honors at the end of the season.

Senior Maia Abrahamson and juniors Macy Blomgren and Beth Button each received All-District honors for their play this softball season.

For the baseball team, seniors Ganon Archer, Reese Moore, Jack Pettit and Dalten Van Pelt and junior Ike Speltz received First Team All-District honors while senior Chris Schreck, juniors Ben Gilliland and Carter Durflinger and sophomore Austin Baumhover earned Second Team All-District.

Van Meter's Chris Schreck (22) and Ben Gilliland (5) celebrate after a score against  Beckman Catholic during the sixth inning in the high school Class 2A baseball semifinal at Merchants Park Thursday, July 21, 2022, in Carroll, Iowa.