Kee goes back-to-back
Elizabeth Hill had the perfect response to the question of what defending a state championship means.
Hill’s top-ranked Kee softball team downed No. 6 Clarksville Friday evening while in between rain delays at Rogers Park, 8-1.
“It’s just an awesome feeling,” said Hill, who’s Hawks went 38-2 on the diamond. “You can never take last year away from that team and you will never get another year like this one.
“It was great to see them stay focused and get to put a check mark next to it now.”
Kendra Cooper gave her family a second all-tournament team captain honor, replacing sister Courtney Cooper on the honor squad after striking out 10 and allowing just a single hit vs. the Indians (29-3).
Courtney Cooper, Sydney Strong and Katie Brennan joined Kendra Cooper on the team, while Clarksville had Bethany Negen and Janet Borchardt.
“We really feed off each other,” Courtney Cooper said. “Kendra did an amazing job inside the circle and I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
After a scoreless first, Kee went to work in the second. Brennan doubled and came around to score on a base hit by Annabelle Dibert. Later in the inning, Kendra Cooper plated Dibert for a 2-0 lead.
The Hawks opened it up in the third, plating five runs on five hits off Indian freshman pitcher Kori Wedeking. No. 8 hitter Casey Welsh, a senior, drove in a pair of runs with a single, while Kendra Cooper and Dibert each had an RBI.
“We have a lot of confidence in all of our hitters,” said Courtney Cooper, one of five Kee seniors. “That really helps in games where we know when one gets going, the next one will come through as well.”
Kendra Cooper reached base all four times up to plate, while Brennan had two hits. Dibert also reached twice to go along with her two RBI and two runs scored.
The Hawks have now reached the championship game three times in four seasons under Hill, who is 157-93 in her coaching career.
Wedeking struck out nine batters on the night and Janet Borchardt had the lone hit — a double — for the Indians. It was a long day for Clarksville, as they defeated Sigourney in the semifinals well after midnight Friday morning after waiting out a lightning delay.
“It’s kind of a surreal feeling,” Negen said. “We set out with our first goal to win (the Iowa Star Conference), which we did by going undefeated. Making it to state was another milestone and here we are, having just competed for the championship in 1A.
“We have nothing to hang our heads about, but we do have unfinished business and I can’t wait until next season.”
The Indians, who were playing in their first state tournament since making their debut here in 2004 with a sixth place finish, graduate just two players from their roster.
KEE 8, CLARKSVILLE 1
Clarksville 001 000 0 1 1 4
Kee 025 001 x — 8 9 1
Kori Wedeking (L, 24-2, 6 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 9 K, 4 BB) and Bethany Negen; Kendra Cooper (W, 21-1, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 10 K, 1 BB) and Chloe Severson. 2B–C: Janet Borchardt; K: Kendra Cooper, Katie Brennan. RBI–K: Kendra Cooper (2), Chloe Severson, Annabelle Dibert (2), Casey Welsh (2). SB–K: Makayla Peters. LOB–C: 2; K: 8. DP–C: 1.