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Mustangs mow down Jesup on way to state

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - The East Marshall softball team rallies around its Class 2A state qualifier banner after beating Jesup 14-1 in five innings in Monday’s Region 1 final in Jesup.

JESUP — East Marshall senior right fielder Madison Duncan got to make one play all night, but it was the one she knew she was going to get and joked about to her teammates at practice a day earlier.

This was no joke, and neither are these Mustangs.

Class 2A No. 5 East Marshall made surprisingly quick work of third-ranked Jesup and advanced to the Iowa Girls High School State Softball Tournament for the first time since 2014, beating the host J-Hawks 14-1 in five innings here Monday night.

And as she reeled in Zoe Miller’s routine fly ball to right as the final out of the game, Duncan had a “freakout moment” in her head that didn’t reflect in the results. East Marshall (31-4) was poised, prepared and powerful, putting Jesup (30-10) on the wrong side of a run-rule outcome for the first time this season.

“I knew we’d been playing pretty well, pitching and defense, and offensively we moved the ball against (Colbee) Cunningham of Colfax-Mingo at the end, and tonight we started like a house afire and we just never let up,” said Mustang head coach Jary Hoskey. “We got very good hitting and we didn’t have an error, we gave up three hits and walked a batter. I’d say that’s pretty good for a regional final.”

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - East Marshall head coach Jary Hoskey high-fives senior Madison Farrington as the team celebrates its first trip to state since 2014 after Monday’s 14-1, five-inning romp over Jesup in Jesup.

That might be an understatement.

East Marshall senior catcher Madison Farrington upped her season total to 13 home runs with two round-trippers into a slight wind, connecting on a three-run shot to right field in the top of the first inning and a two-run blast to left-center in the fifth that helped signal the end for the J-Hawks. Jesup had already removed their starting pitcher and made four errors by that point, and Mustang junior pitcher Kodie Hoskey finished off the J-Hawks in order in the bottom of the fifth.

With only one strikeout against a team averaging more than 10 runs per game, Kodie leaned on her defense and it supported her. The Mustangs were 8-for-8 on ground balls and 6-for-6 on chances in the outfield, including Duncan’s finale.

“Yesterday in practice it was our last run-through and [coach Hoskey] hit the ball right to me, and I said if that happens [today] I’m probably going to have a freakout moment,” said Duncan. “So when the last ball was hit to me today, that was just dumb luck. But I called it, I told (center fielder) Melinda (Puumala) it was going to happen. In my head I was like ‘what if I don’t catch it, what if it’s spinning and it pops out and I drop this,’ but it was an easy out and I guess everything happened the way it was supposed to.

“It was basically just a relief.”

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

So was scoring three times in the top of the first. After getting shut out for six innings by Colfax-Mingo in Friday’s regional semifinals in Le Grand, the Mustangs rallied up three runs to advance to the regional finals for the third year in a row.

Knowing that three runs might not be enough against a team as potent as Jesup had proven to be, East Marshall kept pouring it on from the opening pitch.

Puumala started the game off with a double and took third on a Maria Rasmusson single, but seemed to have missed a chance to score when Jesup’s center fielder bobbled the ball. One out later, Farrington erased all doubt with her long fly ball beyond the fence in right.

Kayla Mommer collected a one-out single to right in the second and moved over when Emma Pfantz got her bunt down, reaching safely on the first of four J-Hawk errors. Puumala’s grounder was misplayed, too, and Rasmusson got a run home with a sacrifice fly to center.

Jesup starting pitcher Rhianna Bigwood walked Farrington to start the third, but then Juliana Arifi singled, Hannah Birks singled and Kodie singled in a run. The J-Hawks played home on Mommer’s grounder but the throw was wild, allowing Arifi to score, and Pfantz dropped a double down the first-base line to drive in two more.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

Jesup turned to pitcher Alexis Vander Werff for the remainder, and Puumala welcomed her into the game with a run-scoring single to left. Rasmusson’s groundout — the first out of the inning — plated Pfantz and Reagan McIlrath’s single made it 11-0 Mustangs after only three frames.

McIlrath singled and scored on Farrington’s second homer of the game to make the final outcome all but official in the fifth, and Arifi walked and later scored on Hoskey’s two-out blooper to right for the 14th and final tally.

“I think [the first inning] for sure gave us some momentum,” said Farrington. “Once anyone starts hitting it hard, sooner or later everyone starts following that too.

“We knew we couldn’t just score three in the first inning and not score again because you definitely can come back like we did, so I think we just kept playing hard and it added up.”

As Duncan reeled in the final out, Farrington flung her mask into the air and hopped into Kodie’s arms as the rest of the team streamed out of the dugout and from their defensive positions to join in the celebration.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

East Marshall’s sixth state tournament appearance was a no-doubter.

“It’s an amazing feeling, it’s the third year in a row for the regional finals and we’ve tried to push through it,” said Kodie, “and this year we did. It’s amazing. We have been wanting to do this forever and this is our year, so we’re going to go [to Fort Dodge] and play hard just like we did tonight.”

East Marshall drew the No. 2 seed for state, where they will face No. 7 seed Ogden (25-7) in the quarterfinals on July 22 at 5 p.m. at Harlan Rogers Park in Fort Dodge.

“All in all I’m very proud of the kids,” coach Hoskey stammered, wiping away the tears. “We’ve got eight seniors and there’s nothing else you can say about that. I’m so happy for our eight seniors to end their career at a state tournament.

“We knocked on the door twice before — we talked about that all season, all winter long — and tonight we busted the door down.”

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

Kodie allowed just three hits, though all consecutively in the bottom of the fourth. Bigwood and Jenna Jensen singled and Kristin Sadler hammered a double to the gap to make it 11-1, but coach Hoskey made a quick visit to the pitcher’s circle to remind his team about its comfortable lead.

“I just said those runners don’t mean anything, let’s get outs,” he said.

And they did.

Kodie got a pair of infield popups and one last groundout to end the fourth, and the J-Hawks’ only threat was extinguished.

“We knew that we could compete in the first place and once the ball started rolling and they weren’t hitting well, I think we got more confidence,” said Arifi, “so we kept fielding the ball cleanly and the confidence continued to build. It’s awesome.”

Puumala, McIlrath, Farrington, Arifi and Kodie Hoskey each had two of the Mustangs’ 14 hits, while Rasmusson added two RBIs. Farrington — she’s tops across Iowa in all classes — now stands with 64 runs batted in.

Regional Finals

Monday’s Games

CLASS 1A

Bishop Garrigan 1, AGWSR 0

Clarksville 10, Starmont 0

Collins-Maxwell 3, Grand View Christian 0

Gehlen Catholic 2, Westwood 1

Lisbon 1, Belle Plaine 0

Lynnville-Sully 8, North Mahaska 3

Newell-Fonda 6, Ridge View 4

Wayne 8, Melcher-Dallas 0

CLASS 2A

Alta-Aurelia 5, West Sioux 3

Central Springs 6, East Sac County 0

Dyersville Beckman 4, Durant 2

East Marshall 14, Jesup 1, 5 innings

Mount Ayr 9, West Monona 0

North Linn 5, St. Ansgar 3

Ogden 2, Earlham 0

Wapello 4, Pekin 3

CLASS 3A

Albia 9, North Polk 6, 8 innings

Algona 8, Spirit Lake 3

Columbus Catholic 4, New Hampton 1

Davenport Assumption 11, W. Burlington 1

Louisa-Muscatine 1, Williamsburg 0

Mount Vernon 3, Solon 2

Treynor 5, Southeast Valley 3

West Liberty 7, Anamosa 2

——

East Marshall 14, Jesup 1, 5 innings

At Jesup

EM 317 03 — 14 14 0

JESUP 000 10 — 1 3 4

Kodie Hoskey and Madison Farrington; Rhianna Bigwood, Alexis Vander Werff (3) and Andrea Gibbs. W–Hoskey (21-3). L–Bigwood (21-7). 2B–EM: Melinda Puumala, Emma Pfantz; JES: Kristin Sadler. HR–EM: Farrington 2 (13). LOB–EM 6, JES 3.

——

Tuesday’s Games

(all games 7 p.m.)

CLASS 4A

Oskaloosa (24-14) at ADM (28-6)

Boone (17-11) at Carlisle (34-3)

Mason City (18-21) at Charles City (34-3)

Ballard (26-9) at Dallas Center-Grimes (23-14)

Iowa City Liberty (21-21) at Independence (29-11)

Fairfield (22-18) at North Scott (25-14)

Central DeWitt (29-8) at West Delaware (29-10)

Sioux City Heelan (16-13) at Denison-Schleswig (25-13)

CLASS 5A

Sioux City North (21-12) at Waukee (37-3)

Des Moines Hoover (18-10) at Valley (28-10)

Ankeny (20-18) at Fort Dodge (33-6)

Cedar Rapids Prairie (29-11) at Cedar Rapids Kennedy (36-2)

Dubuque Hempstead (32-7) at Iowa City High (33-7)

Southeast Polk (24-16) at Indianola (32-4)

Ottumwa (32-7) at Muscatine (31-7)

Pleasant Valley (27-12) at Johnston (33-8)

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE