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Prep roundup: Senior splits with Bettendorfby the Telegraph Herald
While the school home run record is still a few blasts away, Dubuque Senior's A.J. Medinger brought herself within shouting distance after a clutch homer on Saturday.
Medinger's three-run bomb in the ninth inning gave the Iowa Class 5A No. 4-ranked Rams a 5-3 extra-inning victory over Bettendorf in the first game of a non-conference doubleheader in Bettendorf, Iowa.
The Bulldogs forged a split with a 4-1 victory in the second game.
Medinger went 3-for-3 at the plate and finished with four RBIs for Senior (27-7). She also pitched all nine innings, striking out five and working around 14 hits and four walks.
The home run was Medinger's ninth of the season. Jane Kremer set the school record with 13 in 1983. Teammate Sydney Tigges is right on Medinger's heels with eight homers.
Catcher Kristie Sommer had a solo homer for the Rams' only run in the second game. It was her fourth of the year.
Kristie Sommer went 3-for-5 in the opener, while twin sister Katie added a pair of singles.
Jacobsmeier and Tigges had two hits apiece in the second game.
The Rams will host city rival Wahlert on Monday to kickoff the final week of the regular season. Senior is a game behind Cedar Rapids Jefferson in the win column in the race for the Mississippi Valley Conference Mississippi Division championship.
The J-Hawks have just two games remaining. Senior would clinch no worse than a share of the league title if it can win out.
RAMS RIGHT IN MVC TITLE HUNT
But rain throws a wrench in their schedule in the waning days of the regular season.by the Telegraph Herald
One pitch hit the backstop, and then another. Finally the umpire had seen enough.
Rain halted play in the middle of Dubuque Senior's doubleheader against city rival Wahlert on Monday. Then, after the rain stopped and just as the field was readied for play, the skies opened up once again and temporarily stopped the Rams' pursuit of a second consecutive Mississippi Valley Conference divisional title, and second city championship in as many years.
The second rain delay ended Iowa Class 5A No. 4-ranked Senior's 8-0 victory over Wahlert, and postponed the second game of the doubleheader until likely Wednesday. The victory clinched at least a share of the city title for the Rams.
"Especially at this point in the season any win is a good one," Senior coach Jason Loeffelholz said. "We're still keeping our MVC championship hopes alive. Right now we're just trying to get back to basics and playing Rams softball."
Senior (28-7, 18-5 MVC), the runaway MVC Mississippi Division champ a year ago, is locked in a tight battle with 2012 Valley Division champion, Cedar Rapids Jefferson, for this season's Mississippi Division title. The J-Hawks (29-10, 20-6) split with Iowa City West, opening the door for Senior, which has three league games remaining, to win a second straight outright title.
"It's really close, so we're in it trying to make these last games count and we're making them good," said Rams ace A.J. Medinger, who threw a one-hitter. "I think (a second straight MVC title) would mean a lot to us knowing that our program is getting better every year and that we can actually do it when we put everything together."
Playing Rams softball worked on Monday, though Wahlert starter Brittney Rogers shut the Rams down over the first three innings. Rogers allowed just a walk in the second and a single in the third, although both runners were thrown out on the bases.
But after the first time around, Senior's hitters switched up their approach, and it paid off.
"Our goal at the beginning of the game was to come out and play our game the way the girls know how to play," Wahlert coach Sam Reimer said. "Senior did their job and made the adjustments, but overall our girls came out and played the game the way they know how. They set their goal early and they stuck to it."
Senior's Sydney Tigges lifted a sacrifice fly to center with the bases loaded before Natalie Jacobsmeier and Jess Westhoff followed with run-scoring singles for a 3-0 lead in the fourth.
Reimer brought eighth-grader Alaina Robbins in to relieve Rogers after that, and although Robbins got out of the fourth without any further damage, she didn't fare much better.
Senior catcher Kristie Sommer beat out a bunt single with two runners on in the fifth, but two runs scored and Sommer advanced to third when a throw from first to second sailed into the outfield. Medinger was hit by a pitch moments later and Tigges hit a line-drive three-run homer to left.
It was Tigges' ninth homer of the season and ties her with Medinger for the team lead, just four shy of Jane Kremer's school record of 13 set in 1983. Tigges hit four homers as an eighth-grader last year.
"We play game by game," said Tigges, whose four RBIs on Monday gave her 32 for the year. "We focus on the doubleheader. This doubleheader was to get city champs, and the next doubleheader, if we sweep them, was to get conference champs, so we just focus game by game."
An official reschedule date for the second game was not set Monday night.
Loeffelholz and Reimer planned to finalize plans today, but Wednesday appeared to be the most likely day. Reimer is not opposed to playing a makeup game the day before Thursday's Class 4A regional quarterfinal against De Witt Central.
"I'm ready to play," Reimer said. "You coach this game so that you can play. We have to take all the opportunities we can get and I think it's only fair to our team and to Senior as well to take another shot. It will give us an opportunity to get the jitters out and get ready for regional play."
RAMS CLINCH MVC TITLEby the Telegraph Herald
Dubuque Senior is a Mississippi Valley Conference champion once again.
The Iowa Class 5A No. 4-ranked Rams swept aside potential playoff opponent Waterloo East, 6-4 and 8-5, on Tuesday in Waterloo, Iowa, clinching at least a share of their second straight MVC Mississippi Division title.
Kristie Sommer hit a two-run home run in the top of the seventh for a pair of key insurance runs. East scored two runs in the bottom half before the Rams closed out the Game 1 victory.
Sommer posted four RBIs in Game 1 and Natalie Jacobsmeier drove in two runs in the second game. Jacobsmeier recorded 12 outs in a row at one point to earn the win in the nightcap.
Senior (30-7, 20-5 MVC) won the outright division championship last season, and can do so again with a victory against Dubuque Wahlert today.
The city rivals will play the second game of their postponed doubleheader beginning at 5 p.m. at Veterans Park.
SENIOR WINS SHARE OF MVC
Senior escapes scrappy East with sweepby the Waterloo Courier
WATERLOO, Iowa - If the heat wasn’t making Dubuque Senior softball head coach Jason Loeffelholz sweat enough, Waterloo East did a great job of adding to it Tuesday night.
With the Mississippi Valley Conference’s Mississippi Division title on the line, Loeffelholz’s Rams needed a sweep of the Trojans Tuesday to stay in the hunt.
Twice, Senior (30-7, 20-5) built big leads against East (18-20, 11-15) only to see the Trojans rally late before the Rams were able to register the sweep, 6-4 and 8-5, to surge a half-game ahead of Cedar Rapids Jefferson in the Mississippi Division race.
Tonight, the Rams will finish a doubleheader against Dubuque Wahlert. With a win, they will secure their second consecutive division title. With a loss, Senior will share the title with Jefferson.
"They do a great job here," Loeffelholz said of East. "It would’ve been nice to have a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh, make it easy, not get my heart racing, but they weren’t going to let that happen.
"I’m happy for the girls. We were fortunate to get one last year, and we have a special group of young ladies who have put Senior back on the state map.
"They are excited about it, but staying even-keel because they know we have to win tomorrow night."
Kristie Sommer’s two-run home run in the top of the seventh gave Senior a 6-2 lead in the first game.
But after RBIs by Katie Henry and Ashley Kubik pulled East within 6-4 in the bottom half of the inning, Senior needed a great grab by Sadie Mai in a centerfield off the bat of the Trojans’ Kenzie Wroe, who represented the tying run, to take game one.
Sommer was the star for Senior with a 2-for-3 effort and four RBIs.
In the nightcap, the Rams took advantage of a wild Makayla Ryan to score five times in the third inning with the benefit of only two hits. That lead crept to 8-1 by the bottom of the seventh, but once again East wouldn’t go away.
Katelyn Kinnetz had a run-scoring double, and Henry followed with a two-run single that made it 8-4. And with two outs, Meghan Thompson drilled a double to left that scored Kubik, but the Rams executed a perfect relay from leftfielder Jessie Westhoff to shortstop Katie Sommer to catcher Kristie Sommer to nail Wroe, who was trying to score from first, to end the game.
"We battled, it just took us too long to get going," East coach Gene Laughlin said. "But the good part is we came back.
"I probably should’ve stopped Kenzie there, but what the heck ... roll the dice and see what happens. We just came up short on that one."
Despite the doubleheader loss, Laughlin likes the way his team is playing. The Trojans had won eight of their last 12 prior to the doubleheader sweep.
"We need a little better pitching, but you get what you get with eighth graders," Laughlin said. "But this team has really come together, and I think they’ve won a lot more games then what anybody thought we were going to win."
East will host metro rival Waterloo West in a Class 5A regional opener Thursday at 7 p.m.
Dubuque Senior 003 010 2 - 6 10 2
Waterloo East 002 000 2 - 4 7 2
A.J Medinger and Kristie Sommer; Leah Frost and Ashley Kubik. WP - Medinger. LP - Frost. HR - Senior: Kr. Sommer. 2B - Senior: Medinger. Katelyn Kinnetz, Katie Henry.
Senior 005 021 0 - 8 6 0
East 100 000 4 - 5 11 4
RAMS ONTO NEXT MISSION
Senior blanks Wahlert to claim city and league crownsby the Telegraph Herald
A piece of a Mississippi Valley Conference championship was already locked up. Its share of the city title was safe. But that still didn't mean Dubuque Senior could afford a letdown in its regular-season finale.
With outright MVC Mississippi Division and city titles on the line, the Rams kept their foot on the gas and their eyes toward the Iowa state softball tournament.
Class 5A No. 4-ranked Senior clinched as many outright championships as it could on Wednesday with an 8-0 victory at Veterans Park over crosstown rival Wahlert in Game 2 of a doubleheader split over a few days by rain. The Rams won the first game by an identical score on Monday, but rain forced that contest to end after six innings and postponed the second game.
Senior then swept Waterloo East on Tuesday night to clinch at least a share of the Mississippi Division title -- its second in as many seasons.
"Two years in a row is tough to do," Senior coach Jason Loeffelholz said. "It's one thing to do it once, but the second time everybody was giving us their 'A' game. We're the best team in the MVC record-wise in both divisions, so I'm pretty happy with that, and these young ladies deserve that because they put in a lot of time."
But Loeffelholz and his bunch weren't satisfied with sharing the titles. And they won't be satisfied unless they win twice more at Vets.
Senior (31-7, 21-5 MVC) hosts either Waterloo East or West in a regional semifinal on Saturday night, and with a victory would host either Cedar Falls or Hempstead for a trip to the state tournament in Fort Dodge.
"Basically we focused on playing as a team and getting everything done that we needed to. Our practices were hard and our coaches pushed us to our full potential," said Rams outfielder Natalie Jacobsmeier, one of two seniors on the team. "Winning two MVC titles in a row is outstanding."
Senior honored Jacobsmeier and third baseman Jessica Gerardy after the game on a delayed version of senior night. Both players will be playing collegiately, but they'll be seeing each other from across the diamond. Jacobsmeier will attend the University of Dubuque; Gerardy will join Rams assistant coach Holly Klein at Loras.
Jacobsmeier doubled leading off the second inning on Wednesday and later scored on head's-up baserunning after Kristina Robey singled to center. Katie Sommer beat out a safety squeeze bunt for an RBI single later in the frame as the Rams built a 2-0 lead.
Senior took a 5-0 lead in the third behind a sacrifice fly from Robey and a two-run single from Sommer. A.J. Medinger blasted a solo home run to center in the sixth -- her MVC-leading 10th of the year.
"I was just in there trying to hit the ball and get on base for Syd (Tigges) behind me and all the other girls to keep the runs and hits going," Medinger said.
Senior added another run on a throwing error and a Robey groundout before Medinger closed out a three-hit shutout. She allowed just four hits in 13 innings against Wahlert this week.
Jacobsmeier, who went 2-for-4 and scored all three times she reached base, cited an increased intensity in Senior's practices having a bigger influence on game day results. Loeffelholz agrees.
"We've had some good practices and you can tell, it's like the girls have stepped it up a notch here getting ready to go," he said. "(Tuesday) night was a good test. They're ready to go."
Senior pounded out nine hits and drew five walks. Another batter reached after being hit by a pitch.
Wahlert did get a bit of good news with the return of injured ace Gabby Tath.
Tath missed the last four weeks after dislocating a finger on her pitching hand. She went 0-for-3, and sent a fly ball to the fence in the deepest part of center field in the seventh, but did not play in the field.
"It was good to see her come out and not miss a beat," Eagles coach Sam Reimer said. "Her timing was on, her confidence was up, she was hitting the ball hard. She prepared herself very well in a very short amount of time.
"She had a rough first at-bat, she made her adjustments her last two and drove the ball deep both times so it was good to see."
Reimer said Tath is available to pitch in today's Class 4A regional quarterfinal at De Witt Central, but was undecided on who would get the ball. Whoever does pitch for Wahlert, the offense will need to provide some run support.
Wahlert stranded eight baserunners on Wednesday, including the bases loaded in the third inning, and went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. The Eagles left eight runners on base in Monday's game, including the bases loaded in the sixth.
"We have to find ways to score," Reimer said. "We're getting runners on base, we're just not finding ways to score and you can't win ball games without scoring runs."
Rams set up city showdownby the Telegraph Herald
Dubuque Senior didn't send just one message on Saturday, the Rams sent several.
Senior was on its game at the plate, in the field and in the pitcher's circle, and as a result will be playing in a regional final for a second consecutive season.
A.J. Medinger struck out nine, including eight over the first three innings, and she a hit a towering grand slam to left-center field in the sixth inning, helping the Rams to a 12-2 six-inning victory over Waterloo East in Saturday's Iowa Class 5A regional semifinal at Veterans Park.
"We just had to play Rams softball," Medinger said. "It's just another game, we just had to have our hitting, our defense, and just put everything together."
Senior (32-7) will host Hempstead in a regional final on Tuesday at Veterans Park. The Rams have not qualified for the state tournament since the 1985 team won the state title.
"We've been (to the regional final). It's not our (goal). We want to take the next step," Rams coach Jason Loeffelholz said. "The girls are hungry. We've played deep into this tournament several times and they did last year. They know what it takes to make the next step."
The Rams struck quickly, scoring three runs in each of the first two innings. Sydney Tigges delivered the big blow in the first, a two-run double.
In the bottom half, East got a runner to third with no outs, but Medinger struck out the side to end the threat.
Medinger's grand slam was her 11th home run of the season and brings her within two round-trippers of tying Jane Kremer's school record of 13, set in 1983.
Now, the Rams can end a drought without a state appearance in 28 seasons.
"We're going to play our hearts out to get to state," Senior third baseman Jess Gerardy said.
Seventh-ranked Senior KOs East, 12-2by the Waterloo Courier
DUBUQUE, Iowa - Seventh-ranked Dubuque Senior pinned Waterloo East in an early hole and never let the Trojans out as the Rams ended the Trojans’ season, 12-2, in Saturday’s Class 5A regional softball semifinals.
Senior (32-7) jumped out to a three-run lead in the first and tacked on three more in the second for a 6-0 advantage. That edge grew to 8-0 after five innings, then the Rams erupted for four runs in the sixth for a 12-0 cushion.
East put together a two-run rally in the sixth when Katelyn Kinnetz and Katie Henry led off with doubles and Megan Thompson drove in Henry, but the Trojans were unable to extend the game.
Kenzie Wroe also doubled for East, which finished 19-21.
"Pitching was the difference in the game," said East assistant coach Dan Stuber, whose team gave the Rams’ A.J. Medinger a battle when they met last week.
"Medinger really picked up her game from last time we faced her. She shut us down, keeping us off-balance offensively."
Dubuque Senior 330 114 – 12 9 0
Waterloo East 000 002 – 2 5 3
A.J. Medinger and Kristie Sommer; Leah Frost and Ashley Kubik. WP – Medinger. LP – Frost. 2B – Katelyn Kinnetz (WE), Katie Henry (WE), Kenzi Wroe (WE).
RIVALS SET TO COLLIDE
One Dubuque public school's state tournament drought will end tonight, the other's will continue.by the Telegraph Herald
It's the biggest intracity game in nearly three decades, if not the biggest ever.
But tonight, only one team will leave Veterans Park satisfied.
Hempstead and Senior square off in an Iowa Class 5A regional final at 7 p.m., with the winner ending a long state tournament drought.
Hempstead has never reached Fort Dodge; Senior hasn't played at state since winning the second of the school's two state softball championships in 1985.
Suffice to say, the pair haven't played for a state berth in that time span. Wahlert made its only tournament appearance in 2009.
"It will be, because one of us is going to state. Yes, this will be the biggest game since 1985 for Dubuque softball, the public schools, because one of us is going to state," Rams coach Jason Loeffelholz said. "It's going to be a fun night. No matter what happens it's going to be exciting. We're looking forward to it. The girls have been working hard, I know Hempstead's excited. This is summertime fun."
The teams took opposite paths to tonight's regional final. Hempstead snapped a five-game losing streak with a 5-3 comeback victory over Cedar Falls. Senior slugged to a 12-2 six-inning victory over Waterloo East.
Hempstead (28-12) and Senior (32-7) split their regular-season doubleheader. The Rams won the opener, a 2-1 duel that pitted aces Hailey Koerperich and A.J. Medinger against each other. Those pitchers are expected to start again tonight.
"Everybody plays a little different when it's do or die," Koerperich said. "We know we can make it to the state tournament."
In the first game of their doubleheader, the Mustangs couldn't put together the clutch two-hit outs that can win a ball game. In Saturday's semifinal, all five of Hempstead's runs scored following two-out hits.
"We talked about that, never give up no matter how many outs there are," Mustangs coach Alisha Frese said. "Anything can happen at this point in time. Only one chance from here on out, so everyone's playing good at this time of the year.
"We've talked about getting back to the way we were the first half of the season, swinging the bat with confidence. We should have some confidence knowing we beat (Senior), but it doesn't matter at this point. It just depends on how we play and what team shows up (tonight)."
Hempstead won the second game of the doubleheader, 5-2, and held the Rams scoreless for 10 consecutive innings in the doubleheader.
Scoring runs hasn't been much of a problem for Senior lately.
The Rams have won five straight games, scoring an average of 8.4 runs per game.
"We're excited to play Hempstead," Senior's Jess Gerardy said. "We're going into it and we're going to play our hearts out to get to state."
RAMS END DROUGHT
Senior qualifies for 1st state tourney since 1985.by the Telegraph Herald
Dubuque Senior athletic director Brent Cook held out the Iowa state softball tournament qualifier banner as an entire team ran right toward him.
He nearly couldn't get out of the way as the Rams snatched the banner.
After 27 seasons without a state qualifier, Senior was ready for a party Tuesday night, and the Rams faithful got that celebration after a tense 3-0 victory over city rival Hempstead at Veterans Park.
No. 7-ranked Senior (33-7) will face sixth-ranked West Des Moines Dowling (31-11) in a state quarterfinal on Tuesday in Fort Dodge.
"It's been forever," Senior shortstop Katie Sommer said. "We were so pumped, we were so ready. Our goal was six wins and now we're here, we did it."
Senior's ascension to a state tournament team was a slow, methodical one.
The Rams fought through several seasons with losing records before finally breaking through with a .500 season in 2010.
Since then, it's been a quick rise for the Rams, who this season won their second consecutive Mississippi Valley Conference divisional title.
From alumni to the greenest eighth-grader on the roster, it took an entire program to reach Fort Dodge.
"They helped us get there," Rams coach Jason Loeffelholz said. "We're half juniors and seniors and then we've got these eighth and ninth-graders that have really stepped up. We graduated three great seniors last year (Haley Zenner, Natalie Blatz, Liz Reuter), and not only to put us back in a position to be here again and a chance to go, but then to get there, fantastic. I'm proud, I'm happy for them of course, but I'm just so proud of them.
"All the former players, any player that's been with me the last 10 years; I could name off a few names -- players like Shawna Dole, Laura Zelinskas, Mel Roussel, Brittany McNab, Kathryn Schilling, Megan Reiss, Molly Rdeiss -- those are the girls that, this program was winning 10 out of 50 games for several years, they're the ones who helped turn it around."
Senior, which split a regular-season doubleheader with Hempstead, took advantage of a couple Mustangs' errors to put Hempstead into a quick 2-0 hole.
It was eerily similar to the first game of the teams' doubleheader, in which Senior scored a pair of runs in the first and held on for a 2-1 victory.
This time, the Rams scored on an error and brought home a second run on a passed ball. Hempstead could have escaped unscathed, but committed two errors in the inning.
"That was a huge start to the game to get those two outs," Hempstead coach Alisha Frese said. "It could have been a totally different game, but that's not what happened."
The Rams added a run in the third on Jess Westhoff's sacrifice fly.
In the field, Senior ace A.J. Medinger threw a gem. She allowed just three hits and struck out nine and did not allow a hit after the third inning. She retired 11 of the final 12 batters she faced, including the final seven in a row.
"A.J. was lights out. She was phenomenal," Loeffelholz said. "That's probably one of the top-five games she's pitched all year. With all of the people here, the intracity, the regional final, we were as composed as a team tonight as I think we've been all year."
Senior managed just five hits itself as Hempstead ace Hailey Koerperich kept the Mustangs in the game.
But, the Rams couldn't fully relax until they recorded the final three outs. And, when Sarah Lauer's flyout to center field fell safely into the glove of center fielder Sadie Mai, then the celebration was on.
"I was going in and out of consciousness just thinking about it," Senior third baseman Jess Gerardy said. "But, you've got to bring yourself back down and say, 'Let's do this, let's do this, let's finish it right here.'
"We were back to the basics. We were still playing within ourselves to get there."
The game featured an interesting dynamic for a group of Dubuque relatives. Senior's Kristina and Mackenzie Robey are cousins of Hempstead's Hailey and Hope Koerperich.
Kristina Robey doubled against Hailey in the second inning.
"It was a little awkward at first," Kristina said. "I tried making a funny face, but she didn't really see it."
The bittersweet side of the victory was felt by Loeffelholz, as well.
"That's a good Hempstead team," said Loeffelholz, who teaches at Hempstead. "I'm so happy for us, but it's too bad you had two very quality teams play a quality game and someone had to knock each other out.
"We're happy with it, we'll take it, but little bittersweet. You have a lot of players over there who deserve to go, too, but so do we."
ONCE IN A LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY, HOPEFULLY MORE
Tuesday's intracity regional final brings an atmosphere unseen in city games.by the Telegraph Herald - (July 18, 2013)
One glance around the Veterans Park field on Tuesday night confirmed what many thought: an intracity game with a trip to the state tournament on the line was a must-see event.
With the park's parking lot filled and overflowing onto side streets, a capacity crowd turned out to witness Dubuque Senior's historic 3-0 victory over city rival Hempstead in an Iowa Class 5A regional final.
Inside the park, the hillside was covered with people and fans formed a ring around the entire field, ensuring they had a good view for the contest. In fact, there were so many people, concession stand workers needed to make a run to the store to get more beverages.
While intracity games are usually tense games with an atmosphere not seen in games against other Mississippi Valley Conference rivals, this game went beyond.
"Honestly, crazy," Senior's Jess Gerardy said. "There was a lot of nerves, a lot of excitement."
Each team entered the game hoping to end a long state tournament drought. They knew one team's would end, while the other's would painfully continue. But, for the city of Dubuque and its softball programs, this game was a long time coming.
Senior had not advanced to state since the 1985 team won the state championship and had fallen just short in the 2012 regional final. Hempstead has never qualified for state. Since 1985, only Wahlert has represented Dubuque in Fort Dodge -- once, in 2009.
"These girls just made a memory they'll never forget for the rest of their lives," Rams coach Jason Loeffelholz said. "And ultimately, that's what it's all about."
For the current Mustangs -- as good as Hempstead has been -- it was their first regional final, and just the second time Hempstead had advanced within a victory of state in coach Alisha Frese's 10-year tenure.
Seeing a game like this inside the city limits can do big things for each program.
"It was huge, not only for the younger girls in our program, but just the younger girls in general to come out and see a game like this in Dubuque," Frese said. "Overall there were some great plays and some good things happening. Obviously one of us was going to state, we knew that coming in, and I think just having those young girls see the crowd turnout, and ... overall, it was a close game."
Each team has just two seniors on its roster.
In Hempstead's case, they are two very important seniors, pitchers Hailey Koerperich and Jordan Albrecht, who also form the team's top hitting tandem.
For the Rams, they lose a little more.
While Gerardy and Natalie Jacobsmeier depart for college, Senior must also say goodbye to twin sisters Katie and Kristie Sommer, who are transferring to Linn-Mar.
For the players who remain, their mission is simple. Let's have more games like Tuesday's happen in Dubuque. And hopefully the next one will be about a year from now.
PREP SOFTBALL: RAMS RIGHT BACK ON TOP OF ALL-MVC TEAMSby the Telegraph Herald - (July 23, 2013)
It was only a year ago when the Dubuque Senior softball team was a relative newcomer in the top all-Mississippi Valley Conference honors.
Rams coach Jason Loeffelholz and staff took down MVC Mississippi Division coaching staff of the year honors for the second straight year and five players earned spots on the top two honor teams.
"You're only as good as the players and the parents you have in the program," said Loeffelholz, whose staff includes hitting coach Jeff Brandel and pitching coach Holly Klein. "And it's a great honor. When you get voted something like that from your peers, it means a lot."
Pitcher A.J. Medinger, and twins Katie and Kristie Sommer earned first team notice for the Rams. Natalie Jacobsmeier and Sydney Tigges made the second team.
Jess Gerardy and Jess Westhoff each earned honorable mention status. Gerardy and Jacobsmeier, the team's only seniors, were selected to represent the Rams on the all-academic squad.
Medinger is hitting .412 entering the state tournament, and her 11 home runs are just two shy of tying the school record. She has also driven in 46 runs and is the team's ace in the pitching circle, posting a 21-3 record with a 1.27 ERA.
Katie Sommer led the Rams with a .517 average. She scored a team-high 47 runs and stole 50 bases. Kristie Sommer hit .380 with 13 doubles, five home runs and 39 RBIs.
Jacobsmeier posted a 12-4 record in the pitchers' circle with a 1.78 ERA. Tigges is second on the team with nine homers and is hitting .369 with 37 RBIs.
RAMS IN SEARCH OF TITLE NO. 3
Senior begins its quest for a title today in Fort Dodge.by the Telegraph Herald - (July 23, 2013)
The last Dubuque Senior softball coach to take the Rams to the state tournament spoke at a practice Sunday as the current Rams prepared to make their first official trip to the Iowa Class 5A state tournament.
Art Wiegand, who led Senior to nine state berths, including two championships -- the last coming in 1985, the last time the Rams played on the state's biggest stage -- told the girls exactly what needed to happen to have success in Fort Dodge.
"He just talked about every girl needs to make sure they're ready to go. That starts with the leadoff hitter all the way down to someone who might be courtesy running," current Senior coach Jason Loeffelholz said Monday as he and his team prepared to watch the night's action in the smaller classes at the state tournament. "They have to be ready to go in and help the team in any situation. All it takes is one player to not be ready in that position and it could cost you.
"The girls were really soaked in to what we had to say. That was a great experience for them. Meeting him really meant a lot."
The seventh-ranked Rams open their drive for the program's third state softball championship at 5:30 p.m. today when they face No. 6 West Des Moines Dowling at the Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge.
The way Senior approaches it, it's just another game.
"We're just going to have to play Rams softball," pitcher A.J. Medinger said. "It's just our game. Our defense, our hitting, our pitching; just everything. It's who we are and how we play."
Medinger said the Rams players haven't paid much attention to Dowling, any more than any opponent, and will show up at the park today ready to play.
Loeffelholz reached out to an acquaintance in the Des Moines area to get a scouting report on the Maroons, so he knows a little about what to expect.
"From my gathering, they have a pitcher very similar to (Cedar Rapids) Jefferson's pitcher (Alyssa Olson) and their lineup is pretty solid," Loeffelholz said. "They don't have any spectacular .500 hitters, but at the same time I'm not sure they have any hitters below .300.
"Once you get to the state tournament, there aren't many weak spots, especially up in 5A."
Jessica Bastian leads the Maroons (31-11) with a .384 batting average. She also has team-highs with nine home runs and 34 RBIs.
Claudia Farrell appears to be the team's ace. She posted a 17-6 record with a 0.80 earned run average this season. She has struck out 248 and walked just 44.
On the other side, Senior counters with Medinger, who is 21-3 with a 1.27 ERA. She has just 40 walks and has struck out 173.
"A.J.'s going to have to work ahead, hit her spots as good as she can and change speeds," Loeffelholz said. "We have to be able to keep them off balance. That's the key to the game. That's going to set the tone for the game. And if she's on, and she's been on more than she's been off this year, we're going to be in pretty good shape."
Medinger is also the team's leading slugger with 11 home runs and 46 RBIs. Second baseman Sydney Tigges has nine homers and 37 RBIs and catcher Kristie Sommer has five round-trippers with 39 runs driven in. Katie Sommer leads the Rams with a .517 average and 47 runs scored. She is also 50-for-53 on stolen base attempts this season.
Dowling has outscored its opponents, 250-108 this season. Senior (33-7) has fared better, posting a 253-77 run differential.
While Medinger said she and her teammates didn't feel the nerves on Monday night, that didn't mean they wouldn't show up today.
"I don't think we have any right now, it's going to be once we get there and once we start warming up we'll get our nerves," she said. "That's when it will start to sink in and we'll realize we're here representing Dubuque."
The winner will play either Cedar Rapids Prairie or Ankeny in the semifinals at 7 p.m. on Thursday night.
The loser will play two games in the consolation bracket on Wednesday.
DOWLING DASHES RAMS STATE OPENER
Senior remains focused on winning its remaining 2 consolation games.by the Telegraph Herald - (July 24, 2013)
FORT DODGE, Iowa -- Dubuque Senior came here with a goal of winning the final game of the season.
That goal hasn't changed. Unfortunately, the bracket has.
West Des Moines Dowling scored eight runs with two outs in the second inning and rolled to a 12-4 victory over the Rams in an Iowa Class 5A state quarterfinal at Rogers Sports Complex. It was Senior's first state tournament appearance since the 1985 championship game.
The sixth-ranked Maroons (32-11) advanced to play No. 2 Ankeny -- which beat Cedar Rapids Prairie, 8-1, in an earlier quarterfinal -- in Thursday's semifinals.
The Rams (33-8) will face Prairie in a consolation semifinal today at noon.
With a win, Senior would play in the fifth-place game. The Rams will play for seventh if they lose.
"The goal is to win both (games)," said Rams pitcher and outfielder Natalie Jacobsmeier, who relieved ace A.J. Medinger to start the third inning. "We're going to come in tomorrow and play Rams softball and show them what we got."
Senior struck first and quickly erased any nerves they may have felt.
Katie Sommer led off the inning with a perfect bunt single in front of the plate and Jess Gerardy followed with a walk. Following Kristie Sommer's sacrifice bunt, A.J. Medinger lofted a sacrifice fly into shallow left field, scoring Katie Sommer.
"We were ready to go," Rams coach Jason Loeffelholz said. "I don't think the nerves were too bad; they were excited, they weren't nervous."
But the lead was short-lived.
Dowling loaded the bases on a pair of hits and a walk, and it appeared the Rams might get out of the jam when shortstop Katie Sommer forced the lead runner out at home for the second out. Medinger then worked a 1-2 count on No. 9 hitter Aubrie Crivaro before the wheels fell off.
Crivaro fouled off three pitches before lining a two-run single to center. Kaila Konz followed with an RBI double and another run scored on a wild pitch before Claudia Farrell lofted a two-run homer to left for a 6-1 lead.
Jessica Bastian extended the inning with a single over leaping shortstop Katie Sommer before Sierra Walton's two-run homer put Senior in an 8-1 hole.
"They scored eight runs with two outs, how many times does that happen?" Loeffelholz said. "They hit a pitch up in their eyes, they had a couple key hits. In my 10 years coaching I don't think we've ever given up that many runs with two outs."
But the Rams weren't ready to throw in the towel.
Katie Sommer reached on an error leading off the third and stole second before moving to third on a passed ball. She eventually scored on twin sister Kristie's sacrifice fly.
Senior got help from a shaky Dowling defense in the fourth, and the Rams' first three batters of the frame reached base thanks to a trio of Maroons errors.
Senior got a third run on one of the errors, when Jess Westhoff laid down a sac bunt, but the throw from Dowling pitcher Claudia Farrell sailed into the outfield. Another run came home on a passed ball.
"We wanted to stay positive because we knew we could come back and get it," said Katie Sommer, who reached base three times, scored twice and stole two bases. "But then they just kept going and going. We kept our heads up, we kept fighting and that's all you can do."
But it was as close as the Rams could get.
Dowling put together another two-out rally in the sixth, tacking on three more runs. Farrell had driven home a run in the fourth.
"We just made a little bit of an adjustment after the first inning," Maroons coach Matt Murillo said. "(We) moved back in the box a little bit, said let's lay off the riseball and make her come to you. We didn't panic. (Senior) is a very good team, but we played a lot of very good teams this year."
The Maroons outhit Senior, 13-3. Farrell, who entered the game with 248 strikeouts in 166 innings, struck out 14 and issued just three walks. She also went 3-for-4 with three RBIs.
"I knew my team would pull through for me with runs," said Farrell, who has allowed just 23 earned runs this season. "I have all the confidence in my team."
State softball: Dowling gets all-around game on mound to reach 5-A semis.by the Des Moines Register - (July 24, 2013)
FORT DODGE, Ia. -- Dowling Catholic’s Sierra Walton needed one pitch to change her destiny.
Walton swung at a pitch that soared high out of the strike zone. She followed that by smashing a two-run homer in a 12-4 win over Dubuque Senior Tuesday in a Class 5-A state softball quarterfinal at Rogers Sports Complex."It was going from embarrassing to awesome," Walton said.
Dowling (32-11) scored eight runs in the second inning to end a streak of tournament-opening losses over the last three seasons.
Claudia Farrell threw a three-hitter with 14 strikeouts and drove in three runs. She hit a two-run homer in the second inning two batters before Walton’s shot.
Farrell’s blast sailed over the left field fence. Walton’s homer dropped into the same section of fans.
"When it came off the bat, I knew it was gone. I didn’t have to look," said Walton, a sophomore who drove in three runs.
Walton was unable to play at last year’s state tournament because of a knee injury.
Teammate Kaila Konz, who started at center field Thursday, scored three runs and drove in another. Like Walton, she also made the most of her chance to play after sitting on the bench the last two seasons.
"I couldn’t wait to get my chance to help the team out," Konz said.
Dowling’s Jessica Bastian scored twice and had two RBI.
The Maroons sent 10 batters to the plate in the second inning. Seven of them had hits. Aubrie Crivaro singled in two runs during the rally.
Senior made its first appearance at state since 1985 when Tears For Fears’ "Shout" was the nation’s No. 1 song. The school won the championship that year.
The team came back after Dowling’s eight-run spree. Kristie Sommer drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the third inning. Senior added two runs in the fourth inning, including a bases-loaded walk by Katie Sommer.
"We never gave up, because we knew that we had a chance to win," Sommer said.
RAMS FINISH TOURNEY STRONG
Senior shuts out 5-time state champ Valley in the 7th-place game at state.by the Telegraph Herald - (July 25, 2013)
Dubuque Senior achieved its goal.
The Rams finished the season off with a victory in their final game, blanking West Des Moines Valley, 3-0, in an Iowa Class 5A seventh-place game at the state tournament on Wednesday in Fort Dodge.
A.J. Medinger, who suffered the loss in Tuesday's 12-4 state quarterfinal loss to West Des Moines Dowling, bounced back with a complete-game three-hit shutout.
Medinger battled a rib injury in Tuesday's game and again in the consolation semifinals Wednesday. An hour rest was all she needed between games to close out the season.
"The rest just let me get myself together more," she said. "It helped me stay relaxed throughout the whole game. It helped me settle down a little bit."
The Rams probably couldn't help but feel a little snakebit after the consolation semifinal, a 5-4 11-inning loss to Cedar Rapids Prairie that dropped them into the seventh-place game.
Senior built a one-run lead four different times against Prairie, only to have the Hawks score twice in the bottom of the 11th, walking off with a bases-loaded walk.
"The girls were a little down. We had that (game) in our grasp," Senior coach Jason Loeffelholz said. "The last thing we want is to come down and go 0-3. We are absolutely tickled pink we made state. But no team wants to go 0-3. You want to validate it once you get here. So they were disheartened by that."
But that was all a distant memory after the victory, which came at the expense of a Senior alum -- Valley coach Tom Bakey, who was inducted into the Senior Athletic Hall of Fame last fall and provided Loeffelholz with an accurate scouting report for Tuesday's game against Dowling.
"I joked (with Bakey) before the game, 'Take it easy on us,'" Loeffelholz said. "He was more than happy to help us out with Dowling. He said, 'I'm a Senior grad. I'm going to help you guys out more than Dowling.'"
Medinger, who pitched four innings of three-hit, one-run ball against Prairie, did not allow a hit in the first four innings against Valley and issued just two walks the entire game.
"She told me, 'Coach can I start? I'll go as long as I can,'" Loeffelholz said. "She battled and was working her spots, and did a very good job."
Natalie Jacobsmeier relieved Medinger against Prairie and did not allow an earned run in her 6 1/3 innings.
"Natalie Jacobsmeier pitched a fantastic game," Loeffelholz said.
Katie Kramer, a reserve who has come up with a number of key hits at the state tournament, delivered an RBI single in the bottom of the second against Valley to give the Rams the lead.
Kramer finished the tournament 4-for-6, tied for the team lead for hits with Katie Sommer.
"I just thought to myself, if they're giving me this I better take advantage of it and do my best," said Kramer, a freshman. "It was really neat to be down there. Even though we lost those games, we're still here with the best of the best."
Kristie Sommer's double in the fourth inning scored twin sister Katie, and Sydney Tigges drove Kristie home with a single later in the inning as Senior increased its lead to three.
Katie Sommer finished the game 2-for-3, and Tigges and Jess Westhoff contributed two hits apiece.
Medinger allowed very little the rest of the way.V
Valley pinch-hitter Cait Lennon doubled with two outs in the fifth inning to break up Medinger's no-hit bid.
"That's kind of impressive, knowing we can hang with teams that have been here before and show what Dubuque softball has grown into," Medinger said of beating five-time state champion Valley. "No matter what school it is, Hempstead or Wahlert."
Senior shuts out 5-time state champ Valley in the 7th-place game at state.by the Fort Dodge Messenger - (July 25, 2013)
Dubuque Senior 3, WDM Valley 0
A.J. Medinger silenced West Des Moines Valley Wednesday, leading Dubuque Senior to a 3-0 win in the Class 5A seventh-place game.
Medinger had two strikeouts and allowed just a pair of hits, while Katie Sommer, Sydney Tigges and Jessie Westhoff each had two hits for Senior (34-9 overall).
Kristie Sommer, Tigges and pinch-hitter Katie Kramer all drove in runs.
Mackenzie Jones and Caitlyn Lennon collected base hits for the Tigers (26-17).
COMMENTARY: SENIOR'S STATE SOFTBALL BID PROVIDES HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
City teams continue to rise, and so do the chances of reaching Fort Dodge.by the Telegraph Herald - (July 26, 2013)
Two teams from Dubuque have qualified for the Iowa state softball tournament in a five-year span.
Dubuque Senior coach Jason Loeffelholz hopes the latest appearance will open the door for the Key City to be a regular in Fort Dodge.
The Rams finished their first state tournament since 1985 with a 1-2 mark, winning the seventh-place game over West Des Moines Valley, 3-0, on Wednesday at Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge.
"What I would like to see is that this motivates other girls at Senior, or incoming kids, to go out for softball and be involved in something like this," Loeffelholz said. "I strongly believe every student in high school needs to be involved in an extra-curricular activity.
"These 15 girls just made a memory, and me included, that they will never forget. There is not one player in our program that will ever regret going out for the sport this year. Right now, there isn't one of them that regrets any second of it. Hopefully it gets more girls motivated next year."
It was the 10th state appearance for the Senior softball program -- many more than the one combined appearance for Hempstead and Wahlert (Wahlert qualified in 2009).
But, players from those teams made the 3-hour trek across the state to support the Rams -- including a large contingent of Mustangs, whose own state bid fell a game short thanks to Senior. The show of solidarity wasn't lost among the Rams.
"I saw Hempstead players, right when we came in. We said hi and they were wishing us good luck," Senior's A.J. Medinger said. "We know, yeah they wished they were here, but we'd be doing the same thing if they were here. It's another Dubuque team and we're just trying to represent the city."
Based on the number of red T-shirts in the stands on Tuesday -- and the number of Dubuque County license plates traveling west on U.S. 20 and in the Rogers Sports Complex parking lot -- the city was well represented.
And most of those fans stuck around to watch the Rams knock off a five-time state champion in the final game of the season on Wednesday.
Now that this current crop of Senior athletes has seen the state's biggest stage, expect them to be back.
"It's something to push us, because it's our first time since a long time ago," said Katie Kramer, a freshman. "It was nice to show what Senior could do. It's going to push us even more now that we know what it takes."
And chances are, even more teams from Dubuque will be making the trip west in the near future.
'Our dugout, we were all ready to go...We wanted to play, we came to play, and that's what we did.'
- Kathryn Schilling on how the Rams felt about the Wahlert game possibly getting called because of rain
'We'll go down there to do one thing: WIN!'
- Head Senior BB Coach Wendell Eimers before their 2007 substate game vs. Linn Mar.
'We knew we could win. We knew we would win, it was in our mindset!'
- Katie Hohman, after our 2005 district win against Hempstead.
'We just wanted to earn some respect, because we deserved it!'
- Abbey McTaggart, also after the district win against Hempstead.
'This is exactly what we wanted to do....'
- Brittany McNab, after the Rams made it to the Championship Game in the 2006 Wahlert Tournament.
'That was freakin' awesome!!'
- Alex Wirzbach, when asked how her double felt against Beckman in the opening game of the 2007 season.
'Everyone has the will to win, I want players with the will to prepare!'
- Ray Demarini