Unranked Kee's storybook season continued here Thursday.
Pulling off their second consecutive state tournament upset, the Hawks (34-9 overall) stunned No. 4 AGWSR by a 3-1 count in a Class 1A semifinal at Rogers Sports Complex.
No. 1 Akron-Westfield (37-0) now awaits Kee in the 1A title game this morning at 10 a.m. on Mittera Field. The defending state champion Westerners advanced with a 3-2 triumph over sixth-rated Martensdale St. Mary's for their 53rd victory in a row.
—Messenger photo by Britt Kudla
Kee players celebrate THEIR victory over AGWSR in a Class 1A semifinal. For more photos, please visit CU at messengernews.net
"(The state tournament) was on our goal sheet at the beginning of the season," said fourth-year Hawk head coach Elizabeth Hill, whose squad previously blanked second-ranked Lynnville-Sully in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. "We have amazing athletes and amazing character girls. We couldn't ask for anything more. Our community support has just been unbelievable."
Eighth-grader Kendra Cooper (22-4) fired a five-hitter in the win, allowing just one earned run. Cooper walked one and fanned five. She worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the seventh by inducing a pop out to third and a ground out to second.
"I'm just so excited," Cooper said. "We got a little nervous, but we fought through it. I've been waiting for this for a long time."
KEE 3, AGWSR 1
AGWSR 000 000 1-1 5 1
Kee 100 020 x-3 4 3
Ashley Sicard (L, 28-6; 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K) and Jami Johnson; Kendra Cooper (W, 22-4; 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) and Ellie Heiderscheit.
2B-K: Ellie Cooper, Chloe Severson. MH-A: Morgan Rose (2); K: Valerie Meyer (2). SH-A: Madison Fryslie, Johnson, Abbie Young; K: Courtney Cooper, Molly Walleser, Severson. LOB-A 9, K 3.
Junior cleanup batter Valerie Meyer went 2-for-3 offensively for Kee, driving in Kaylee Darling with a RBI single in the bottom of the first. Still up by the slimmest of margins in the fifth, the Hawks extended their lead on a RBI double from Ellie Cooper and a run-scoring ground out by Darling. Cooper and Chloe Severson each crossed the dish once for Kee, which prevailed for a sixth straight game on the heels of three losses in a row.
The Hawks finished a combined 5-46 during the 2011 and 2012 campaigns, including 0-25 two years ago. Last summer, Kee was 15-14 overall.
"When we were winning five games, we were still pushing to be (at state)," said Hill. "Our motto is, 'The dream doesn't work unless you do.' And the girls have bought into it. If I say, 'Jump,' they say, 'How high?"
Eleven of the 18 players on Kee's current roster are either eighth-graders or freshmen. The only other state appearance for the Hawks came in 2002.
Morgan Rose collected two hits for the Cougars (28-7), while Olivia Ingledue brought home Alexa Johnson with a RBI single in the seventh. AGWSR, which placed third here in the 2A field last season, saw its six-game winning streak snapped.
Looking to rebound, the Cougars will battle Martensdale St. Mary's (26-5) for third today at 9:30 a.m. on INS Field.