Connor Swim, Announcer
Even though rankings on paper suggested that the #6 ranked Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont Rockets were the underdogs to the extremely young #3 Columbus Catholic Sailors, a wildly different story played out in the Class 2A Softball Quarterfinal matchup at the Rogers Sports Complex on Day One of the State Softball Tournament in Fort Dodge.
Ignore every statistic, ignore the rankings, and ignore the predictions. None of it matters here in state tournament play. The story for the Rockets played out in a way that no one watching except for the Rocket faithful and athletes expected. EBF entered the state tournament red hot, winning all regional playoff games convincingly and highlighted by a strong 4-1 win over #4 ranked Pella Christian in the Region 6 Final. The Rockets have made their money behind talented junior pitcher Randie Richmond. backed by an athletic and stout defense, as well as an explosive offense highlighted by senior shortstop Haegen Boyer and senior catcher Claire Jager.
Columbus Catholic had a dream season entering the state playoffs. The Sailors reached State for the first time in school history on the back of a school record 34 win season. The young team, fielding all underclassmen except for a lone senior and junior, has a healthy balance of solid hitting and pesky pitching. Sophomore Kayla Sproul pitched 32 of the Sailors’s 39 games this year and throws a lot of off speed that compliments her fastball. They carried a lot of moment into tournament play.
Early in the game, it became apparent which team let the moment get to their heads and what team was playing with the fire and confidence needed to succeed in the state tournament. EBF started out the game strong, not plating any runs, but knocking on the door and putting runners in scoring position every inning. In contrast, Columbus Catholic only recorded 5 hits in the entire game, 3 of which came in the 7th inning. EBF pitcher Randie Richmond was in complete control and her confidence was mirrored by her team. Still, with all of the hits and runners stranded on base by EBF, the Rockets seemed to have trouble plating runs. They took a 1-0 lead in the 3rd thanks to a triple turned Little League Home Run by senior Taryn Swartz. Swartz laced a ball into the outfield and ran into 3rd base standing up. The throw from the cutoff man flew over the head of the 3rd baseman and Swartz never stopped running and took home. This error painted a picture of the game as a whole. EBF played with confidence and did not make mistakes. Columbus Catholic showed their youth and inexperience and played a much messier game than their counterparts. This allowed EBF to appear in complete control of the game, even with just an 1-0 lead.
Finally, in the 7th inning, the score reflected the story of the game. After two singles and a walk in the top of the 7th, Haegen Boyer blew the game open with a huge double, pushing the score to 3-0. The Rockets did not quit there, with Claire Jager hitting a 2 RBI single and Darian Johnson ripping a 2 RBI double to add to the EBF lead in the top of the 7th.
The Sailors found a little bit of life in the bottom of the 7th, scoring 2 quick runs. EBF Head Coach Tony Fenton made a trip to the mound, calmed his players, and the defense closed out the game in decisive fashion.
You can catch the EBF girls in action in the Class 2A Semifinals on Thursday, July 20th, at 5:00 pm, and as always you can listen to the game live on 104.9 FM KBOE, kboeradio.com, and the KBOE mobile app, with the pregame show beginning around 4:45.