Mowing down their opponents with phenomenal displays of skill for most of the start of the 2021 campaign, Anamosa softball coach Brad Holub wanted to see how his class 3A sixth-ranked team would react to being tested playing at ninth-ranked West Liberty Tuesday, June 8.
Holub liked what he saw.
“Emily (Watters) pitched a great game and kept us right there allowing our offense to get going and win it late,” said Holub, as his Raiders posted a huge 4-0 triumph in the state-ranked showdown with the Comets, a Raider softball nemesis over the past several seasons.
“Grace Lubben came through with some huge hits that produced the runs we needed and Emily took care of everything else with more outstanding pitching holding a very good West Liberty offense in check, something that is not an easy thing to do.”
Anamosa (15-3, 9-1) and West Liberty battled to a scoreless tie through the game’s first four frames before the Raiders broke through plating the first run in the top of the fifth when Lubben singled home Watters.
“We finally got some offense going in the fifth, and it all came after two were out,” Holub said. “Emily doubled, Joslin (Banowetz) singled and then Grace drove home Emily with another single and we finally broke the ice.”
The game stayed a one-run Raider advantage until the top of the seventh when the visitors broke through scoring three times as Chloe Breitbach and Waters both scored thanks to a two-run single by Lubben before a Dilynn VanMeter sacrifice plated Lubben with the game’s final run.
“It took us about one time through the order to get our offense going,” Holub said. “West Liberty is a very good team with solid pitching and defense and one of the better offenses in the conference. But we showed we’re pretty good too. This was a nice win four our girls and our program.”
Watters was brilliant working a complete game two-hitter while striking out 12 Comet batters. Lubben powered the seven-hit Raider offense going 3-for-4 with three RBIs.
The Anamosa girls faced another stiff test the very next day, hosting class 2A second-ranked Wilton in yet another state-ranked showdown Wednesday, June 9, and this time the outcome wasn’t what exactly what Holub, or Raider fans were hoping for.
“This game came down to defense,” said Holub, as his team committed four errors yielding the Beavers two unearned runs that proved extremely costly in a narrow 3-2 defeat.
“Wilton made the plays they needed to make defensively, and we struggled a little more and that was the difference. When you play high-level games like this, it’s the little things that really make the difference. Even one mistake can make a difference in winning and losing, and we made more than one mistake, but we’ll also learn from it and hopefully be a better team for it going forward.”
The Beavers plated an unearned run in the top of the very first inning before the Raiders battled back to tie the score in the bottom of the third when Lubben singled home Watters.
Wilton took another one-run lead plating another unearned run in the sixth, but Anamosa quickly responded when Lubben blasted a long solo home run in the bottom half to once again tie the score.
“After that ball flew over the right field fence, I really felt like were going to win the game,” Holub said. “We seemed to have all the momentum, but it sure changed quick.”
Wilton again rallied stringing together three hits that plated one run in the seventh.
“This was a tough one to take,” Holub said. “Wilton is a very good team, but we just beat a West Liberty team at their place that I feel is even better. This was a game we should have won, but the physical and mental errors we made were the difference. We’re a better softball team that we showed against Wilton.”
Lubben was a perfect 3-for-3 leading a seven-hit Anamosa offense while Watters worked all seven frames in the pitcher’s circle striking out 13 Beaver batters tossing a five-hitter.
The Raider homestand continued Thursday, June 10, taking a 7-3 final over visiting West Branch.
“Our defense was better and we were able to get our bats going too,” Holub said. “Dilynn had a big game at the plate for us. She’s been hitting the ball on the nose a lot lately, and it’s nice to have another powerful bat in the lineup.”
Anamosa broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the fifth plating three huge runs that also included a VanMeter solo home run. The hosts added two insurance runs in the sixth as Watters and Hadley Frater both crossed the plate.
Watters picked up the pitching win fanning 15 Bears batters while yielding five hits.
The busy week continued Saturday, June 12, as the Raiders hosted their annual tournament, opening with a 12-4 rout over East Buchanan at the four-team round-robin event.
“We had a couple of teams that dropped out of our tournament, so we switched it to a round-robin event instead of the normal bracket style,” Holub said. “Overall, it was a tough day. We had quite a few girls missing and had more errors and base running mistakes that we normally have, and just didn’t seem to quite be on our game.”
Leading 6-2 against the Buccaneers in the first game of the day, Anamosa blew the game open with a six-run fifth frame as Watters and Lubben led the offense with two hits each while VanMeter blasted another solo home run to add to the fifth inning scoring.
VanMeter earned the start in the pitching circle and tossed all seven frames allowing four hits while striking out eight.
The winning ways continued in the second game taking a 9-1 decision over Dike-New Hartford.
Taking a 3-0 lead into the third, Anamosa blew the game open plating six runs. Watters got the pitching start and worked the first three innings striking out six before giving way to VanMeter who tossed the final four while fanning five.
Lexi Bright had a huge game going 3-for-4 at the plate with five runs batted in.
The final game of the day, which proved to be a virtual tournament championship as both Anamosa and West Liberty entered the contest with 2-0 records, saw the hosts handed a tough 4-1 setback against a Comet team they had just defeated four days earlier.
“The tone was kind of set early when Emily ripped a leadoff double in the top of the first and we couldn’t get her around to score,” Holub said. “We had several opportunities to score runs in this game and couldn’t do it.”
The Raiders were the first to dent the scoreboard when Frater scored in the top of the second pinch-running for VanMeter who had singled.
“We played some small ball to get a run,” Holub said. “I honestly didn’t think it would be our only one of the game.”
Anamosa bats were held to just three hits, two coming from Watters who also pitched and tossed a five-hitter striking out seven Comet batters.
The Raiders’ week opened with blowout 14-0 and 12-0 wins at Camanche Monday, June 7, both ending in a mere three frames.
Anamosa bats totaled 22 hits in the doubleheader including eight extra-base hits (all doubles). Mady Meeker tossed a one-hit shutout in the opener while VanMeter did the same in the nightcap.