TRURO – Class 2A No. 3 Interstate 35 got on the board early and never looked back in Monday’s 7-0 win over Treynor in the Class 2A Region 8 final.
The Roadrunners improved to 26-4 with the win and punched their third straight ticket to the Class 2A State Softball Tournament in Fort Dodge next week.
“It’s actually unbelievable,” said senior catcher Shai Major, who went 4-for-4 in the game with a double and two runs batted in. “Our talent has improved a lot in the past year. We’ve been working really hard. We’ve been holding the rope and our batting has been unbelievable. We’ve just been going out there and being competitive.”
Interstate 35 scored one run in each of the first three innings of the game, giving senior southpaw Carlyn Stanley all the cushion she needed.
Stanley finished with 11 strikeouts and scattered four hits in the victory.
The Roadrunners used small ball in the first two innings, as Lilly Miller led off with a walk and stole second base before moving to third base and scoring on an RBI groundout by Kate Stanley.
Major led off the second with a single and courtesy runner Gracie McCuddin moved to second base on a Riley Morris sacrifice bunt, eventually scoring on a passed ball for a 2-0 lead.
Carlyn Stanley gave the Roadrunners the 3-0 lead with a laser of a solo home run to left center field in the third inning.
“I knew their pitcher (Sydni Huisman) was pretty good, so I didn’t think we would score a bunch in an inning, so we bunted a little more,” Interstate 35 head coach Tim Bogs said. “We bunted our No. 4 girl (Josie Wickett), bunted our No. 7 girl (Riley Morris) who has four or five home runs. We always talk about having each other’s back and that’s part of having each other’s back.”
After the Roadrunners got two outs in the bottom of the third, Treynor loaded the bases with a pair of infield singles and a hit batsman. But Carlyn Stanley got cleanup hitter Sydni Huisman to chase a ball up in the zone to end the threat.
“I was just really moving the ball around in the strike zone – inside, outside, up and down in the zone,” Carlyn Stanley said. “The umpire was giving quite a few low ones, so we tried to work that tonight. Keeping them off balance was what we were trying to do.”
Interstate 35 added one run in the fifth inning on a Kate Stanley RBI triple, one in the sixth on a Lilly Miller RBI single and two in the seventh when Shai Major smacked a two-run single back up the middle.
“We really told ourselves to just take a deep breath, don’t think, get on the plate and watch the ball,” Major said. “If we don’t get that play, then we know someone behind us is going to hold our rope and do it for us.”
Carlyn Stanley said having the experience of playing in similar situations the past several years – and playing at the state tournament the previous two years – helped not only Monday, but will prove beneficial next week in Fort Dodge.
“We came into this, we were more relaxed, we knew what was coming,” she said. “That really helps when you get to Fort Dodge. We’ve been twice, so we know what it’s going to be like. We don’t have the nerves.”
Interstate 35 enters next week’s Class 2A State Softball Tournament as the No. 2 seed. The Roadrunners play in the quarterfinal round 3:30 p.m. Monday on Diamond 2 against Central Springs (29-4).
The winner of that game plays either Waterloo Columbus or Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont in Thursday’s 5 p.m. semifinal round.
“There’s a lot of relief right now,” Bogs said. “Right now, I feel pretty good. I told them, this is great now, but we haven’t went up and played great our first game (the past two years). The pressure just keeps coming.”
Making it to state three years in a row is a dream realized for Bogs and his team.
“I told them, if you make it one year, you’re pretty good. Two years, that’s exceptional,” Bogs said. “I don’t know how to describe it. You think about it, and we made pillowcases at the beginning of the year that said ‘Dreaming of state 2017’ hoping you get that far, but it came true.”
The team hopes its experience at the state tournament the past two years will pay dividends.
“We’re going to know what’s coming at us,” Major said. “The last two years, we’ve gone in blind and now we’re ready and we’re going to put all our effort toward state this year because it’s our last go-round. We’re going to go and finish strong.”
Interstate 35 7, Treynor 0
R H E
I-35 111 011 2 — 7 11 3
Trey 000 000 0 — 0 4 0
I-35: Carlyn Stanley 11K 0BB 1HBP and Shai Major. Trey: Sydni Huisman 6K 3BB and Madelyn Deitchler. W — Carlyn Stanley. L— Huisman. HR — I-35: Carlyn Stanley 1. 3B — I-35: Kate Stanley 1. 2B — Lilly Miller 1, Major 1. RBI — I-35: Major 2, Kate Stanley 2, Miller 1, Carlyn Stanley 1. Multiple hitters — I-35: Major 4, Miller 2, Kate Stanley 2. Trey: Kaylee Finnegan 2.