The Southeast Polk softball team came within seven outs of winning the CIML East Division on Monday, but Waukee proved to be resilient.
The Rams needed a sweep of their doubleheader with the Warriors to secure the title, and after taking Game 1 by a 5-1 score, they were on track. With two outs in the fifth inning of Game 2, Southeast Polk led by a run but found itself in a bases-loaded jam.
Southeast Polk summoned Game 1 winning pitcher Hannah Parker from first base in an attempt to get out of the inning. With only seven warm-up tosses, though, Parker wasn’t completely ready.
“It’s very tough because I came in and I wasn’t thinking I was going to come in that inning,” Parker said of the relief appearance. “I wasn’t all the way warm.”
Waukee, with the top of its lineup hitting, got a quick jump. After Claire Dudek drove in the tying run, Nikki Tennant and Callie Feaker each delivered with two-run hits as the Warriors scored five runs to take the lead and eventually an 8-4 victory to split the doubleheader.
“They don’t ever just die,” Waukee coach Carrie Embree said of her team. “We usually end up scoring a lot more runs in the later innings. They continue to battle, they make adjustments when they need to.”
Southeast Polk took an early lead in Game 1 when Shelby Uhl hit a solo home run in the second inning. The Rams added four runs in the next inning, helped by a two-run double off the bat of Parker and run-scoring hits from Uhl and Brooke French.
With Waukee’s comeback victory in Game 2, the Rams’ title will have to wait another day.
“We were really hoping to come out and win both to win the (division) title tonight,” Parker said. “We hate splitting, but we’ll take one win.”
The Rams (5-3 East), who have non-division games of their own to worry about, will need Ankeny (2-4) to avoid a sweep against Waukee (3-3) when the two teams meet next Monday to take the division outright.
“The season is winding down, but we have some of our toughest opponents here at the end,” Southeast Polk coach Tia Stiles said. “That’s going to really help us for postseason.”
While Stiles was satisfied with a split of Waukee, her players were hoping for more.
“It’s disappointing,” Uhl said. “But we still have a chance.”