Johnston’s Hannah Berger collided with a teammate at Sunday’s softball practice and was left with a cut under her right eye.
By game time Monday, it resembled a black eye, but Berger rallied. So did the rest of the Dragons.
Johnston overcame Waukee’s 5-1 first-inning lead and won a 12-6 Class 5-A quarterfinal at Rogers Sports Complex.
“We had to show our true character and slowly fight back,” Berger said, “and then win big.”
Top-ranked Johnston (35-3), last year’s state runner-up, avoided Waukee’s upset bid.
Waukee’s Shaye Witte sparked her team’s opening surge. With two out and two strikes on her, she hit a solo homer.
“I was down 0-2 and knew I couldn’t get down on myself,” said Witte, a sophomore who hit her second homer of the season. “It felt really good, it pumped everyone up.”
Indeed. Waukee strung together six consecutive hits. Cassie Suther hit a two-run single and scored a run during the span.
Waukee (25-17), which lost to Johnston in a regional final last season and fell to the Dragons in the 2009 4-A final, was on top.
Johnston’s Brooke Wilmes doubled in two runs in the second inning to trim the deficit. Haylee Towers and Madison Thilges both drove in runs in the fifth inning to give their team a 6-5 lead.
Towers, who improved her pitching record to 23-0 with the victory, yielded 12 hits but gave up only one run after the wild first inning.
Johnston slugged 16 hits. Wilmes collected three hits, two runs scored and three RBIs.
The Dragons added six more runs in the seventh inning to pull away. Berger hit a bases-loaded triple.
She smiled broadly despite the cut under her eye.
“I told everyone, ‘I’m fine, I’m fine,’ ” Berger said. “Everyone was worried about me.”
Berger bounced back, just like her team.
OTHER 5-A QUARTERFINALS