Beckman came back from a first-round loss to defeat Wapello in a consolation game at the Class 2A State Softball Tournament July 23, 5-3, in Fort Dodge.
Underclassmen had a lot to do with the Blazers’ win. Sophomore Nell McDermott went 3-for-3 in the game, scored two runs, had an RBI and caught the fly in left field for the game’s final out. Eighth-grader Shea Steffen hit a single, walked and reached via error, freshman Lauren Osterhaus tagged an RBI and sacrifice bunted junior Emily Wulfekuhle into scoring position for the game’s first run.
Softball is a team game with at least nine players contributing and the Blazers showcased that as well.
Senior Sydney Steffen fanned two of the four batters she faced in the opening inning and needed just 11 pitches to help shut down the Arrows in the second. She was helped by a leaping Heather Boeckenstedt catch at short for the first out, corralled a liner right back at her and fired to first for the second and coaxed Anesa Noa into a ground out from third to first for the third.
That first Blazer run came in the bottom of the second. Wulfekuhle reached when her shot to center was dropped and advanced on Shea Steffen’s bloop to right. Osterhaus laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt back to pitcher Sammy Smith to move both ahead. McDermott tagged a first-pitch shot to left to plate Wulfekuhle but was tagged at second for the second out. Keeley Schmitt hit hard to second but it was caught and fired to first to end the inning.
It wasn’t until the top of the fourth that Wapello came back to tie the game. An opening walk to Serah Shafer put her on base and she came around after two ground outs and a fielder’s choice to score, making it 1-1.
Shea Steffen walked in the bottom of the frame but no one could bring her in. The Blazers waited until the bottom of the fifth to edge ahead. McDermott opened with a hit to center, Schmitt bunted her ahead, Boeckenstedt ground out but moved her to third. Jadyn Welling tagged a roller to right that plated McDermott and Sydney Steffen reached safely on a single past second, leaving two runners on when Kamryn Klas flew out to center.
Wapello tried to take control in the top of the sixth, scoring two runs to lead 3-2. Shafer bunted and the throw went long. After Smith popped out, Toni Bohlen singled to plate Shafer, 2-2. Noa drew a walk and Morgan Richenberger singled over third to load the bags, with only one out on the board. Aliyah Lolling flew out to center but scored Bohlen, 3-2. Another runner reached via hit-by-pitch but all were stranded when Sammy Ewart hit back to Steffen in the circle and she fired to first.
The Blazers won the game in the bottom of that inning. Wulfekuhle opened with a single to left and Shea Steffen bunted and beat it to put two runners on. Osterhaus blooped over first to score Wulfekuhle, 3-3, and McDermott bunted her third hit of the game to load the bases. Schmitt hit into a fielder’s choice that tagged Steffen at home but Boeckenstedt drilled one to deep center to plate both Osterhaus and McDermott for the final margin, 5-3.
But, just like the first game that had a few strange plays, this inning ended for the Blazers with another. Sydney Steffen hit toward second and it was ruled that Abby Knepper, running for Schmitt, interfered with the ball, forcing the third out.
Wapello’s last gasp inning saw five batters take the plate, with Mady Reid rifling a ground ball up the third-base line to open. Shafer fanned but Smith tagged one to left to put the tying runs on. Steffen reached into her bag of tricks and grabbed the ball hit back at her by Bohlen for the second out, setting up McDermott’s catch for the third and game-ending out.
“These girls just won’t quit,” said coach Ryan Meissner. “How many two-out runs did we score this year and this post-season? We had a bit of a slow start to this game but there was never any worry about the ending. Once we got going, things rolled.
“Syd had control, Heather made some super catches, Lauren made a couple of great plays at second even just getting to the ball, Nell was awesome. We even DH’d her last year because she was having trouble hitting, but she has worked so hard and it showed in this game. The girls were so happy to win and they had fun, what more can you say?
“Saying goodbye to those two seniors, that is the tough one. They are such a big part of our program, of this team. The younger girls look up to them and they make themselves better because of what they get from Syd and Heather. Missing them isn’t enough to describe what we feel now that this is over.”
The Blazers end the season with a 30-14 mark, setting a team record for wins.