Strong return for Roland-Story

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Jenna Clark of Roland-Story dive around Waterloo Columbus during class 3A quarterfinals on Tuesday

In the state softball tournament for the first time in 29 years, ninth-ranked Roland-Story showed it belonged with a statement-making victory in its Class 3A state quarterfinal against third-ranked Waterloo Columbus at the Harlan Rogers Sports Complex yesterday afternoon.

The Norse (29-4) blistered Sailors’ pitcher Kayla Sproul for 14 hits and seized control of the game with a five-run third inning en route to a 6-1 victory on Diamond 2.

“We wanted to come out and make a point that we’re actually really good and deserve to be here,” Roland-Story pitcher and DePaul University recruit Riley Holmgren said after she tossed a three-hitter with seven strikeouts. “We knew that this first game was where we would get the jitters out, but we didn’t have any jitters.”

No, they didn’t.

Sydney Mathis went 3 for 4 with a seventh-inning double that smacked off the fence in center and one RBI to lead Roland-Story. Holmgren, Hailey Louw and the Clark sisters, Jenna and Juliann, all had two hits. Louw and Jenna Clark drove in two runs each; Holmgren had one RBI.

The Norse did all of their third-inning damage with two outs. A Jenna Clark RBI blooper down the right-field line opened the dam and Louw made it 3-0 a few pitches later with a two- RBI base hit to left. Holmgren roped a double into left-center to plate another and Mathis connected for a RBI single to left.

“I knew our team could do it at the plate, it just took everybody a couple innings to get adjusted,” Mathis said. “We have that in a lot of games actually, that one inning where everyone rallies.”

Jenna Clark pushed Roland-Story’s advantage to 6-0 in the top of the sixth with a run- scoring single to left that plated Susie Weaver.

Columbus (38-3) avoided its first shutout of the season on a sixth-inning RBI sacrifice fly to right off the bat of Kate Shannon. It plated Taylor Hogan, who opened the frame with a double down the line in left.

All three of the Sailors’ hits went for extra bases. Sydney Schultz and Alivia Schultz, also sisters, added doubles.

Holmgren, a hard-throwing right-hander, was able to pitch stress-free over the final five innings, she said.

“With the team and the hitters we have, I get to go out there and I don’t have to stress about anything,” she said. “I just get to go play my game.”

Roland-Story will face second-ranked and defending state runner-up Albia (32-4) in today’s semifinal round at 1:30 p.m. on Diamond 2. Columbus dropped to the consolation bracket where it will meet 13th-ranked Spirit Lake at 11 a.m. this morning.

Albia manhandled Spirit Lake, 10-0 in five innings, in the quarterfinals.

Roland-Story 6,

Waterloo Columbus 1

Roland-Story 005 001 0 — 6 14 0

Waterloo Co 000 001 0 — 1 3 0

Riley Holmgren and Hailey Louw. Kayla Sproul and Sydney Schultz. W — Holmgren. L — Sproul. 2B–R-S: Holmgren, Sydney Mathis; WC: S. Schultz, Taylor Hogan, Alivia Schultz.