Gaels play for state berth

OGDEN – When the Class 2A softball postseason pairings were announced, St. Edmond head coach Paul Hunt had no problems with the assignment.

The location of a potential regional final, however, left a lot to be desired.

The Gaels still plan to end their frustration in Ogden tonight, as St. Edmond (25-8 overall) faces Des Moines Christian (19-12) in a Class 2A, Region 7 championship with the winner advancing to the state softball tournament.

Hunt has a record of 0-2 in Ogden, and both losses have come in the postseason – including a 4-1 setback to Van Meter last year in this round.

“This is the year we snap that skid,” Hunt said. “Ogden hasn’t been good to us the last two times, but this is a different year, a different team.

“These girls believe they can do it, and so do I.”

Since a 5-0 setback to No. 12 (4A) Webster City, the Gaels have won six in a row.

Katie Donnelly is coming off a one-hitter in the regional semifinal over Carroll Kuemper and is 16-4 on the year. The senior has 136 strikeouts and just 15 walks on the year.

“We have so much faith and confidence in Katie because of what she has done this year and in the past,” Hunt said. “She is a total leader out on the field and is pitching at an elite level right now.”

The Gaels have scored 13 runs in two postseason games, including nine vs. Kuemper. Josie Heesch, another senior, launched her 29th home run of her career in that game, while senior Allie Oberg and junior Jessica Kuebler each had three hits.

Des Moines Christian has won two in a row and four of its last six.

Sophomore Maddie Wagner leads the team in hitting at .580 with nine home runs and 32 RBI. Emma James, a junior, has three homers, 33 RBI and is 17-10 inside the circle this year with 218 strikeouts in just over 176 innings.

“We know we are going to be facing a tough team (in Des Moines Christian),” Hunt said. “We’ve stayed in our same routine (over the weekend) because I feel that kept the girls relaxed and ready (for tonight).”

The Lions have a handful of players back who were on the state runner-up team including Maddie Cappel, Maddie Wagner, Natatlie Morris and Olivia Rasmussen.