FORT DODGE, Ia. – Softball players are supposed to look their best for state championships, right?
But when the TV cameras focus on Shaye Witte Friday, they’ll see the shredded pants of a girl who plays the game at full speed.
Waukee’s Witte tripled and eventually slid home with the game-winning run in the No. 5 Warriors’ 4-3 win over No. 1 Valley in the ninth inning of Thursday’s Class 5-A semifinal at Rogers Sports Complex.
After the victory, she stood in front of a swarm of TV cameras who may not have noticed the torn back of her uniform.
“That’s from sliding,” Witte said. “Basically, every time I’m on base, I slide.”
Witte tripled to the right-field fence. After two intentional walks to load the bases, Meaghan Greteman lined out to left field. Witte raced home when the throw back to the infield went awry.
Witte’s mother, Amy, who handles the laundry chores, said her daughter’s pants usually last only one or two games. By then, the back pockets are ripped. Some can be patched, but it’s a losing battle with needle and thread.
“She’s always been very aggressive,” Amy said. “She’s speedy and runs track.”
Waukee (35-8) will face Johnston, last year’s champ, in Friday’s 4:45 p.m. final.
The Warriors’ bottom of the ninth rally pushed the team past Valley (36-7). The Tigers forced extra innings when Haley Heinen smashed a solo homer in the seventh.
It was Heinen’s second homer of her career. The senior was moved to No. 9 in the batting order to give the bottom of the lineup some hitting punch.
“She’s had a really good year,” Valley coach Tom Bakey said. “We knew she’d do a good job in that position.”
Valley had beaten Waukee twice during the season. Anna Gernant threw a five-hitter Thursday, but the Tigers gave up runs on a wild pitch and an error.
“Both teams had chances,” Bakey said. “At the end of the day, we gave them two runs, and you can’t do that against a good team.”
Waukee’s Claire Dudek reached base on an error and scored on a wild pitch in the first inning.
Taylor Hulsing hit a two-run homer to give Waukee a 3-0 lead in the third. Kelli Fogt singled and was replaced by pinch runner Grace Foxen, who scored the other run.
Valley rallied in the sixth. Megan Rushing walked and Mack Jones doubled. Lexi Merritt singled in both runners.
Heinen’s homer set the stage for extra innings.
In the ninth, Witte watched as Greteman lined out. Coach Carrie Embree, who played for Waukee’s state champs in 1999 and 2000, shouted instructions.
“She told me, ‘get back, get back, get back,’ then, ‘go, go, go!’ ” Witte said. “I knew I had to get there.”
Witte slid home safely, torn pants and all.
“You take a chance,” Embree said. “They had to make a play.”
At Fort Dodge
Valley…000 002 100—3 8 2
Waukee…102 000 001—4 5 1
Leading hitters—V: Heinen 1×4, 1 run, 1 RBI; Merritt 1×4, 2 RBI; W: Hulsing 1×3, 1 run, 2 RBI; Witte 1×4, 1 run. HR—V Heinen, W Hulsing. W—Schaefer. L—Gernant.