The dynasty continues
Top-ranked (Class 1A) Akron-Westfield didn’t let some early hiccups get in the way of securing victory No. 53 Friday.
The Westerners claimed a 12-1 victory over unranked Kee at Rogers Park, earning their sixth state title in the process and completing the only unbeaten season in Iowa.
“It’s just so special,” said Bethany Eastman, one of five seniors on the roster. “We used their loud screaming and chanting as motivation. We turned that into momentum and it really helped us.”
After falling behind early, Akron-Westfield (38-0 overall) took advantage of everything the Hawks (34-9) gave them – and more – starting in the fourth. Bailey Davis doubled and scored, while Jordan Hansen and two others came across home plate.
Kee committed three errors in the inning, allowing the Westerners to use their speed and small-ball tactics to their advantage.
“The bounces and things went our way,” A-W head coach Todd Colt said. “It was our day. On any other day, things could go a completely different way.”
Akron-Westfield scored in each of the final three innings after that, plating a solo run in the fifth, three in the sixth and four more in the seventh.
“Once our bats got going, we were able to string things together and build off each hit,” Eastman said. “All of us have worked so hard and this just feels so incredible and special.”
Kayla Tindall, who was the captain of the all-tournament team last year in helping A-W to state gold, recorded six strikeouts and allowed just four hits. Tindall, who helped her own cause with two base knocks, is headed to Northwestern College in the fall.
Seven different batters recorded hits for A-W, which pounded out 16 in all. Desi Oltmanns was 2-for-4 with two doubles, a pair of runs scored and an RBI, while Katie Johnson was 4-for-5 out of the No. 2 hole in the order with an RBI and a stolen base.
Kortney Hedlund finished with three hits, all of which drove in runs. Hansen also had two hits and two RBI.
Akron-Westfield has been unstoppable at Rogers Park, winning titles in each of its last four appearances. The last time the Westerners qualified and did not bring home gold was in 2009 when they placed fourth.
“This senior class had some really good older players around when they were coming up, and that helped teach them how to play the game,” Colt said. “Over these last two years, they have taken it upon themselves to shoulder the load.”
The Hawks were making just their second appearance at state. They won just five games over a two-year span in 2011-12, and were 15-14 a year ago.
Kee, who loses just three seniors from its roster, upset No. 2 Lynnville-Sully and fourth-ranked AGWSR to make their first title appearance.
“I watched both of Kee’s games this week and they are a very good team,” Colt said. “I honestly can’t remember a 1A field that was more balanced, so this is a special one to win.”