Earlham reigns in 2A

Earlham completed its perfect season against Class 2A competition by hoisting state championship No. 2 Friday at Rogers Park.

The second-ranked Cardinals scored four runs early then held on, defeating No. 5 Eddyville-Blakesburg/Fremont, 6-4.

Earlham (31-4 overall) defeated three Top-5 teams on its road to victory, including fourth-ranked St. Edmond in a regional final. They won the title in 2009 and were runners-up two years ago.

Kristen Weber, Addie Herman, Abbey Murphy and Morgan Johnson were all in the lineup for that emotional loss in the 2012 finals. They helped the Cardinals leave the field with a better feeling this time around.

“Nobody believed we could do this, but we did,” said Herman, who celebrated her 18th birthday Friday. “When the season started, I looked at the schedule and knew the state finals would fall on my birthday. I could not think of a better present or way to celebrate than this.”

Weber was 3-for-4 out of the leadoff spot, driving in a run and scoring another. Herman reached base three times, scoring twice with two RBI, while four other Earlham batters had hits.

“We started feeling the momentum right away, and when we got a 4-0 lead, I told the team there was no way we were losing,” Herman said. “This feels so much better than (the championship game loss). There is no better feeling and no better accomplishment than this.”

All four losses this year suffered by Earlham came 4A and 5A teams. They won 29 of the last 31 played after starting 2-2.

“Everybody in our lineup helped us,” Earlham head coach Chris Caskey said. “These girls believed and they just continued to get better all year long.”

The Rockets, making just their second appearance in the state field, rallied with two runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth, including a homer from Nataliah Hopkins. Hopkins, headed to Indian Hills in the fall, took the loss inside the circle, striking out three.