Humboldt comes up short

Denison-Schleswig senior Shelby Pieper didn’t expect to see another pitch to hit after blasting a two-run home run in the first inning of a Class 4A regional final versus Humboldt Tuesday night.

She did.

Behind Pieper’s two longballs, the Monarchs earned their first-ever state softball bid, defeating the Wildcats in front of a jam-packed Rogers Park crowd, 11-10.

They will return here next week as one of eight state quarterfinalists. D-S will face defending runner-up Dallas Center-Grimes (35-5) on Diamond 1 Tuesday at 1 p.m.

Pieper, who had five homers coming into the game, connected in the first and fourth innings. The Monarchs, who have won four in a row, jumped on Humboldt (22-10) in the first with four runs.

“No, honestly after I hit a home run, I usually don’t see another pitch to hit,” Pieper said.

Humboldt, though, didn’t go down without a fight, battling back with three runs in the second behind the bottom part of the lineup.

Erica Lane singled, as did Anna Tecklenberg, while a walk to Maddie Thomas loaded the bases. After an out, Lauren Friesth drove in two with a single.

Friesth finished 3-for-4, including a seventh-inning solo homer to provide the final score. Sarah Peters added two hits, including a triple, and drove in a pair.

“We knew this was going to be an offensive slugfest,” Humboldt head coach Doug Van Pelt said. “They were one run better than us (Tuesday night).

“We gave them a few extra outs, and that came back to hurt us, but I couldn’t be more proud of these girls. They kept battling back and never gave up.”

The Wildcats took an 8-6 lead into the fourth before Pieper tied things up. Denison-Schleswig added three more in the fifth.

Sadie Petersen had three hits, while Pieper, Chelsey Green, Sam Pick and Rachel Koch each had two. Koch also matched Pieper with four RBI.

The Monarchs were forced to drive quite a bit further after officials moved the contest from LeMars to Rogers Park. But for a squad that has now scored 10-or-more runs 14 times, including a 30-run outburst earlier this year, the decision paid off.

“Now we know how the ball is going to bounce and the surroundings of the park,” Pieper said. “We’ve got momentum coming into next week.”

Asked what this win means for the members of the team, Pieper said, “History. We are the first team in Monarch softball history to do this.”

Seven seniors depart from the Humboldt program, but they do return the likes of Friesth, eighth-grade pitcher Avery Terwilliger and Peters.

“(This loss) hurts a lot right now because it means a lot,” Van Pelt said. “These seniors did a lot for our program, but the underclassmen will now have to step up and fill that leadership void.”