BACK AT ONE

Winterset returns to the top of the championship podium

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla

Winterset players celebrate their Class 4A state softball championship on Friday at Rogers Park. For more photos, please visit CU.messengernews.net

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Winterset players celebrate their Class 4A state softball championship on Friday at Rogers Park. For more photos, please visit CU.messengernews.net

Corry Pickering didn’t get to play in the state tournament, but she was still a big part of Winterset’s run to the Class 4A state championship at Rogers Park.

The second-ranked Huskies (35-7 overall) fought off an early deficit to claim a 5-2 victory over Ballard (35-6) and claim the school’s second crown in program history — the first came in 2008 — after waiting out an hour-plus rain delay.

Pickering, an outfielder, was injured in a car accident before the Huskies’ opening-round contest earlier this week. She suffered a broken clavicle, two broken ribs, and had 12 staples inserted in her head as a result of the accident.

The sophomore was back in attendance, though, and lined up with her squad on Friday when lineups were announced before the 4A title tilt.

“It was so nice to have her here after what happened,” said Class 4A all-tournament captain and ace pitcher Sophie Stover. “We love her so much, and we’re happy she was back with us.”

The Huskies felt whole again.

“We played well (in the title game) and played solid, fundamental softball all tournament long,” said head coach Steve Corkrean. “We were behind in two of the three games, but the kids always believed and never gave up.”

Fourth-ranked Ballard got on the board first with a two-run home run from pitcher Abby Carlin, but Stover (29-5) shut down the Bombers after that, only allowing three more hits and only three batters advanced to scoring position.

“I have to give all the credit to my defense (for being all-tournament captain),” Stover said. “They were making plays behind me. On that (home-run pitch) I missed and left it too far over the plate.”

Hitting out of the No. 8 spot, Natalie Hansen had a big day offensively. Hansen had an RBI-double in the second and a two-run homer in the fourth. The junior, who was named to the all-tournament team, finished the day 2-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored.

“It’s just a lot of practice, repetition and preparation,” Hansen said. “We practice and get rep after rep. We have a lot of power on our team.

“This just means so much. We were here two years ago and didn’t win it, so we wanted to (finish) the job this time around. This just shows how strong our team is.”

Macy Johnson, who is up for player of the year honors, was perfect at the plate in three appearances and scored a run. She had a triple.

Johnson, who was named to the all-tournament team, was 4-for-8 with two runs scored and an RBI.

Danny Barker was also named to the all-tournament squad.

“This feels great,” Barker said. “This is a dream come true.”

Ballard, who was making its first state tournament appearance since winning the title in 2012 (3A), placed three players on the all-tournament team. Skylar Rigby, Isabell Hobbs and Rachel Newell were all selected to the squad.

Hobbs finished the tournament 5-for-12 with six RBI and a home run. Barker was 6-for-9, and Rigby was 5 of 11 with two RBI.

WINTERSET 5, BALLARD 2

Ballard 200 000 0 — 2 4 2

Winterset 020 300 x — 5 9 1

Carlin (L, 6IP, 9 hits, 3ER, 2BB, 4SO); Sophie Stover (W, 7IP, 4 hits, 2ER, 4BB, 3SO).

2B-W: Natalie Hansen, Grace McDonald; HR-B: Abby Carlin; W: Natalie Hansen. SACB-B: Rachen Newell (2); LOB-Ballard 7, Winterset 7.