Waukee back in title game
Top-ranked Waukee is headed back to the Class 5A state championship game.
The Warriors plated a run in the first and added an insurance one in the sixth, defeating No. 4 Cedar Rapids Kennedy Thursday at Rogers Park, 2-0. Waukee (40-3 overall) advances to Friday’s title round vs. Pleasant Valley on Diamond 1 at 12:27 p.m.
Sarah Schaefer, who is headed to the University of Michigan, struck out 10 batters and scattered nine hits. She recorded at least one strikeout in every inning for the three-time state champions.
“We jumped on them early and that settled the girls down,” Waukee head coach Carrie Eby said. “It’s always easier to play from ahead than behind.
“We knew Kennedy was a great hitting team and we would be in a battle. We stayed aggressive, played great defense and attacked the ball.”
The Warriors did exactly that, as senior centerfielder Mary Kate Gray made a pair of key catches, including one in the third with the Cougars (36-8) threatening. Gray also came in and scored the second run in the sixth on a Kelli Fogt squeeze bunt.
Schaefer, who entered the state tournament with 178 strikeouts in just over 148 innings, would only need that one run. Waukee has won 10 straight and 19 of 20, including a 3-0 victory in the regular season over Cedar Rapids Kennedy.
“It all goes back to timing,” Schaefer said. “Kennedy is a good hitting team and I know a couple of them, so my focus was a little more on. I tried to throw my best and it went in my favor.
“(With runners on) I focused a little more. I gave up quite a few hits, but my great defense behind me was there.”
Taylor was 2-for-3, had a steal and also reached after being hit by a pitch, Schaefer added two hits herself and Jalyn Yaukovitz reached twice. Morgan Nealey also drove in a run.
“I love having the ability to strike people out, but I also love having my defense behind me,” Schaefer said. “If the ball gets hit, I know they can stop it.”
For Kennedy, which will face Urbandale for third place at 11:30 a.m. on Diamond 2 Friday, Camryn Jeffords was 3-for-3 at the plate. Natalie Blank had two hits, as did University of Iowa recruit Ashley Hamilton. This is just the third state appearance for the Cougars and first since 1999.
CEDAR RAPIDS KENNEDY 0
Waukee 100 001 0 — 2 7 1
CR Kennedy 000 000 0 — 0 9 1
Sarah Schaefer (W, 25-0, 7 IP, 9 H, 0 ER, 10 K, 0 BB) and Natalie Wellett; Jayme Scheck (L, 9-3, 4 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 0 K, 1 BB), Kaylin Kinney (2 2/3 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 K, 0 BB) and Megan Weber. 2B–W: Delaney Taylor. RBI–W: Morgan Nealey, Kelli Fogt. SB–W: Delaney Taylor. DP–W: 1; LOB–W: 8; CRK: 9.