Warrior softball season closes with 7-4 playoff loss

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Maddy Wille slides safely into second base against the Vikings. (Photos by Bev Hamann)

Gracie Cummer lays down a bunt in Central’s playoff opener against Edgewood-Colesburg. The Warriors lost 7-4.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


The Central softball season came to an abrupt end July 6, after a hard fought playoff loss against Edgewood-Colesburg. The 7-4 defeat came even as the Warriors had more hits, a higher batting average and more total bases than the Vikings, but they were undone by untimely errors, walks and stranding eight players on the bases, including four who were in scoring position. 


The Warriors got the hits, just not when they needed them, and that was the major difference in the game.


The Warriors had chances from the outset, getting runners on in the first and second innings, but coming up empty on the scoreboard. The Vikings, however, were more efficient, capitalizing on those situations. They pushed two runners across in the third before exploding with a five-run fourth after Warrior pitcher Chelsia Larson walked two Vikings and Central committed a defensive miscue. 


The Warriors battled in the fifth, plating three runs, but the rally fell short when they were unable to get runners home in the sixth and seventh innings. 


The Warriors finished the night with eight hits to the Vikings’ six, but the Ed-Co patience came through in the clutch.  


Brandy Beatty had a great night at the plate with a 3-4 game and scoring a run. Larson got Central on the board with an RBI double in the third inning and Kaitlyn Wiley continued her hitting ways, going 2-4 with a single and double. Abby Cummer also contributed with one hit and two RBIs. 


Larson threw a complete game, allowing six hits, five walks and seven earned runs, while striking out five batters.


The Warriors had several standout players this season, chief among them was first team all-conference selection Cummer, who finished her senior year with 34 hits, 22 RBIs, 13 runs scored and a .447 batting average.


Fellow teammates Delaney Scherf and Beatty were second team all-conference selections. Scherf, a sophomore, compiled 30 hits, seven doubles, 19 RBIs, 26 runs scored, 11 stolen bases and a .400 batting average. Beatty, a junior, finished with 32 hits, 14 RBIs, 21 runs scored, 12 stolen bases and a .416 batting average. 


Additionally, Maddy Wille and Larson were honorable mention selections. Wille finished her senior season with 25 hits, five RBIs, 23 runs scored, nine stolen bases and a .325 batting average, while Larson ended her junior season with a 7-11 pitching record, 82 strikeouts, 45 walks, a 6.15 ERA and holding the opposition to a .237 batting average. As a hitter, Larson strung together 11 hits, seven RBIs and a .183 average. 


Other notable players included Wiley, Madison Sylvester and Ashlyn Scherf, who all finished with a batting average above .300. 


With the season over, first-year head coach Mark Wiley talked about how the year unfolded, commenting on how much the team improved as the season went along, learning about the game  of softball and the importance of team. 


That led to the Warriors putting together a solid second half, winning seven of their last 11 games and remaining more competitive in the losses. It was a stark contrast to how the season began.   


“As a coach, you always want to try to do more. There were games early in the season that I feel we let get away from us in the win column,” Wiley said. 


Those improvements were seen most on the offensive side of the ball, as the team cut down on strikeouts per game and put the ball in play more. According to Wiley, communication among the team got better, leading to better defense and fewer miscues. Leading the charge were seniors Cummer, Sylvester and Wille, who coach described as “great leaders who were willing to take on a softball season with a new coach and really set a positive tone for our team.” 


“It wasn’t always easy, but the seniors were reliable teammates. We have to continue to work on the little things about the game. With more exposure comes more understanding. We want to compete from game one next season at a high level,” Wiley explained. 


As for team goals, unfortunately Central fell short of finishing above .500, ending with an overall record of 11-15 after a rough start. However, the Warriors finished above .500 in Upper Iowa Conference play, tied for fourth with a 9-7 record. In conference, they split with three teams and swept two others. 


“Reflecting on the season, I felt it was a good season. We did a lot of learning together about the game of softball. It will take me creating opportunities for our athletes to improve in the game of softball, whether that is softball camps, off-season lifting or opportunities to pitch, catch and hit,” Wiley said. 


Wiley also expressed gratitude to the volunteers who helped make the season happen. Among them were Becky Lower, Tony Smith, Jamie Scherf, Allison Burkle and Brady Stramer. All of them helped in some way with practices, games and other facets. 


He also brought attention to Hannah Erickson, who stepped up as the junior varsity coach. The team won five of their last six games and the one game they lost was in extra innings to Waukon. The success of the JV squad lays the foundations for future success. 


Finally, Wiley thanked the student athletes who gave softball a chance this season. 


“We made good strides forward with the hard work of our volunteer coaches, focus of our players and support of the community. Thank you to our seniors for their time and efforts this season,” he said.

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