As a program that has been through the pressures of the regional playoffs each of the last two seasons, the class 3A seventh-ranked Anamosa softball team knew exactly what they wanted to do against visiting North Fayette Valley hosting a post-season opening quarter-final contest Tuesday, July 6.
Take control of the game, and do it quickly.
“That was a hell of a game,” said Raider softball coach Brad Holub, as not only did Anamosa set the tone scoring an amazing seven first inning runs in what ended as a 12-0 Raider rout, but sophomore pitcher Emily Watters was her phenomenal self, tossing a four-inning perfect game striking out 11 of the 12 Tiger Hawk batters she faced.
“Tough to ask a whole lot more from the girls than what they gave Tuesday night. That was an absolute clinic. The girls showed up ready to play and took care of business and took care of it quickly. We didn’t want to give North Fayette Valley any signs that this could be a close game, and when we scored those seven first inning runs, I think we got that message across. It helps too having a pitcher like Emily in our corner too, we knew we weren’t going to need much with the way she was throwing, but what she was able to accomplish against North Fayette Valley was nothing short of amazing.”
After Watters struck out the Tiger Hawk side in the top of the first inning on a mere 12 pitches, the Anamosa (30-9) bats went to work immediately as Watters doubled to lead off the game for the hosts before Savanna Venenga (reached on an error), Grace Lubben (double), Lexi Bright (single), Dilynn VanMeter (walk), Joslin Banowetz (single), Mya Ludwig (single), Delaney Frater (single) and Mady Meeker (walk) all reached base consecutively in the bottom of the first.
“All nine reached base in the first inning and seven scored,” said Holub, as Watters, Venenga, Lubben, Addy Appelhans (pinch running for Bright), VanMeter, Banowetz and Ludwig all crossed the plate.
“Even our first out brought home a run when Emily had a sacrifice fly that brought home a run. It was a nearly perfect inning, and great start.”
Watters went right back to work in the top of the second once again striking out the side while Raider bats were surprisingly held scoreless in their half of the frame.
“I guess that second inning was my only disappointment,” Holub said. “I thought we kind of took our foot off the gas and didn’t come to the plate with the same approaches as we did in the first inning. Nothing changed in that second inning but us. North Fayette Valley had the same pitcher, we were the ones who changed and we can’t have moments like that as we go forward. We have to stay focused all the way through the game, no matter the score, and I challenge the girls to get that momentum back.
“They did it.”
Anamosa tallied four third-inning runs keyed by run scoring doubles off the bats of Lubben and Banowetz as Appelhans and Venenga also scored in the frame extending the Raider advantage to 11-0.
But the drama wasn’t over yet.
“We needed one more run to end the game in the fourth and Mady Meeker did that for us in grand style,” said Holub, as Meeker blasted a mammoth lead-off home run that walked the Raiders off with the 12-0 rout.
“Mady hit an absolute bomb over the left-center field fence,” Holub said. “The ball was probably still going up when it went over the fence. One of the longer home runs I’ve seen, it went way out there.”
Though the game went just four frames, Anamosa bats still managed to rip 10 hits, led by two from Lubben and Banowetz.
Watters’ performance in the pitcher’s circle was so completely dominant, the Tiger Hawk offense didn’t put a single batted ball in play the entire game. The only non-strikeout was a fourth-inning foul ball caught by Frater in right field.
“We weren’t too sure what to expect coming into this game, but when we scored those seven in the first, we felt a lot more comfortable,” Lubben said. “Then we just kept it going. It was important to get those playoff-opening jitters out if the way for a lot of the younger girls, as we’re a pretty young team this year. This win sure helped with a lot of that.”