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Go-Hawks defeat Comets 1-0 to clinch NEIC softball title

Go-Hawks defeat Comets 1-0 to clinch NEIC softball title
Press photo by John Burbridge
Charles City shortstop Brooklyn Molitor tags out Waverly-Shell Rock’s Brittney Bodensteiner at the end of a run-down during Monday’s softball game. With a 1-0 victory, the Go-Hawks clinched the Northeast Iowa Conference title.

By John Burbridge

WAVERLY — The Charles City Comets had been here before so many times this season.

On repeated occasions, the Comets’ opponents have put runners in scoring position with one or no outs only to be turned away due to clutch pitching and defense.

With the Northeast Iowa Conference softball title on the line and the score locked up at 0-0 going into the bottom of the seventh, Waverly-Shell Rock got its first two hitters on base with consecutive singles by Maya Willey and Megan Heyer.

Emma Smith, who came in to pinch run for the Go-Hawks starting pitcher Willey, and Heyer each advanced up a base by way of Emma Thompson’s sacrifice bunt.

Comet pitcher Addison Ellis, who has pitched out of such jams repeatedly during her rookie varsity season as an eighth-grader, struck out the next batter Jillian Diercks for the second out of the half inning. But Elle Heyer was able to get her push-bunt attempt past Comet first baseman Keely Collins, who was charging in on the play, to score Smith for the winning run in a 1-0 final.

For the Go-Hawks, it was their fifth-straight win which improved their overall record to 21-7. But more importantly, it capped their NEIC record at 14-1.

Charles City, who fell to 23-5 overall, had split a doubleheader against the Go-Hawks earlier in the season and came into Waverly with a 12-1 league record with one more NEIC game on its regular-season slate — Tuesday’s rescheduled home game against Crestwood.

Had the Comets won the rubber game of the three-game season series against WSR, it would have assured them at least a share of the NEIC title when not including a season head-to-head tiebreaker.

The Comets got into a similar jam in the fifth inning with the Go-Hawks placing two runners in scoring position with just one out. Elle Heyer also got the bunt sign in this situation, but her attempt was popped up and Comet catcher Edie Collins made a brilliant play after she made herself mobile enough to catch the pop-up 25 feet from the plate in foul territory and alertly double the runner off third base to end the inning.

Payton Hadley had two hits and Addyson Vance doubled for Charles City’s lone extra-base hit against Willey and the Go-Hawks. Ellis struck out eight, including six straight, while yielding five hits in seven innings.

Willey and Megan Heyer each had two hits for the Go-Hawks.

After Tuesday’s season-finale against Crestwood, Charles City will host Decorah on Thursday in the first round of the Class 4A-Region 5 tournament.

Waverly-Shell Rock is also in the bracket.

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