Underdog Hoover earns 4A crown
Seventh-seeded Huskies use another big inning to take title
All week long, unranked Des Moines Hoover played the role of Cinderella at Rogers Park.
The fairytale came true for the Huskies Friday night, as they plated seven runs in the fifth to stun No. 2 ADM, 8-3, and win the Class 4A state title.
In their first state tournament since winning it all in a one-class field back in 1982, Hoover (22-7 overall) used big innings in all three of its wins over No. 4 Charles City, 15th-ranked Sergeant Bluff-Luton and the top-seeded Tigers (35-8).
“I can’t explain it,” said Hoover’s Hannah Blackford, the lone senior on the roster. “It’s just so unreal. To win it as underdogs over the No. 1 seed, I just start crying. We believed in each other and we believed we could do it.
“It feels amazing.”
Against the Comets, the Huskies plated five runs in the first. They followed that up with an 11-spot in the third vs. the Warriors. But the best was saved for last, as Daija Bates hit a solo homer and had a two-run triple in the fifth alone.
Blackford added a three-run blast and No. 9 batter Tayler Floyd drove in another run for Hoover. Blackford, a senior, also earned the win inside the circle, improving to 11-3 on the year.
“We had the whole Des Moines Public Schools rallying around us,” said Hoover head coach Missie Feuerbach, who took over the program five years ago. “We have seen a tremendous amount of support from the community, staff members and everyone. These girls earned it and they deserve it.”
Blackford was 2-for-4 with three RBI, Bates was 2-for-3 with three RBI and Abby Nolte had two hits.
That rally in the fifth started after the Tigers took a 2-0 lead with Bates’ first homer of the season. The next three Hoover batters reached with Blackford sending the second pitch she saw over the fence in right.
ADM finally got an out but Bates would rock a ball just past the glove of the centerfielder that plated two more for her first triple of the year. Hoover sent 11 batters to the plate, scoring seven runs on six hits.
“Hitting is contagious and once we got our bats going and started finding gaps, we kept it going,” Feuerbach said. “These girls live for softball. They play it year-round. They live to practice, to hit and just love everything about the game.”
To add to the memorable game, Nolte recorded an inside-the-park homer in the seventh when the ball rolled away from the Tiger defender in right. It was Nolte’s 12th home run of the season.
The Huskies upset defending state champion Winterset in the regional semifinals and edged Lewis Central to make their way to state. They finished the year winners of six in a row and 12 of 15 down the stretch overall.
ADM, which had its five-game win streak come to an end, adds another silver to the trophy case that includes runner-up finishes in 1994 and ’95. Sierra Wyant and Brynn Busta each drove in a run for the Tigers.
“Give credit where credit is due: they flat-out beat us,” ADM head coach Rick Dillinger said. “I think we overachieved this year, but it still hurts (losing in the state finals).”
DM HOOVER 8, ADM 3
Hoover 000 070 1 — 8 8 2
ADM 000 200 1 — 3 5 1
WP–Hannah Blackford (11-3, 7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 K, 0 BB); LP–Abbie Hlas (35-8, 7 IP, 8 H, 8 ER, 5 K, 1 BB).
HR–DMH: Daija Bates, Hannah Blackford, Abby Nolte. 3B–DMH: Daija Bates; ADM: Brooke Hickey. RBI–DMH: Daija Bates (3), Hannah Blackford (3), Abby Nolte, Tayler Floyd; ADM: Sierra Wyant, Brynn Busta.