As hard as she tried to hold it back, Taylor Libby couldn’t.
With a smile spread across her face, Libby finally admitted there was a moment in Saturday’s regional semifinal when the West High senior catcher thought, “Here we go again.”
A year after being upset at home in a Class 5A regional semifinal, fourth-ranked West High trailed Cedar Rapids Washington 5-3 entering the bottom of the seventh inning.
“I’m not going to lie, there was definitely a point when I saw that fifth run come in when I thought, ‘How are we going to be able to overcome this?’” Libby said.
Libby and teammate Grace Tafolla made sure there was no helping of semifinal heartbreak this season.
Libby doubled in a run, and Tafolla provided the game-winning, two-run single as West High rallied for a 6-5 home win over Washington (15-25) in a 5A Region 6 semifinal.
“I always believed in our team,” Libby said. “We had to find a way to be able to come back and we somehow managed to do that, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Three days after outscoring Cedar Rapids Washington 24-0 in a pair of run-rule victories in a regular-season doubleheader sweep, West High (34-5) need three runs in its final at bat to advance to the regional final.
West High will host Ankeny (20-21), a 12-0 winner over Cedar Falls, in the Region 6 title game at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“It’s survive and advance, and at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how you won,” West High coach Justin Lutjen said. “We won, we are walking away and we are moving on.”
Cedar Rapids Washington, which rallied for a 4-3 win over City High in its postseason opener on Thursday, made it a struggle from the beginning for West High.
The Warriors took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a RBI single by Anne Riley that scored Emily Oler.
“Washington, we run-ruled them both games this week, but it’s tournament time and they are going to play at a whole new level with nothing to lose,” Tafolla said. “You have to give credit to them because they came out here and really tested us.”
West High took its first lead of the game at 2-1 in the fourth when Laynie Whitehead lined a two-run doubled down the left field line.
The Women of Troy tacked on a run in the fifth when Taleah Smith drew a leadoff walk and scored on a Tafolla groundout.
Down to its final three outs. Washington rallied.
Jessie Puk lined a one-out double, Dana Riley followed with a single and Brandy Packingham reached on a West High throwing error to load the bases.
Erica Oler then bounced a two-run single off West High pitcher Jessie Harders’ glove into left field to tie the score at 3-all.
The Warriors added runs on a second West High throwing error and an Emily Oler RBI single to take a 5-3 lead.
“I think where the shock came was we didn’t make plays that we routinely make 100 percent of the time,” Lutjen said. “Give them credit, they came out and put the pressure on us. They made us feel the pressure and because of that we made a few errant throws.”
West High had the answer in the bottom of the inning.
Madi Miller led off with a walk and Adara Opiola reached on a Washington error.
Libby then nearly won the game with a RBI double that glanced off the top of the fence in left-center.
“Coach always tells us with runners on base, hard-hit ground balls and gappers win games,” Libby said. “I was just trying to hit the middle of the ball.”
Tafolla followed with the walk-off winner, grounding a ball up the middle to score both runners and give West High the win.
“I just wanted to hit it hard somewhere, preferably to the right side or up the middle,” Tafolla said. “I guess it went to the right spot.”
Tafolla finished 2-for-4 with three RBI and Layne Whitehead was 2-for-3 and drove in two runs.
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.
Cedar Rapids Washington…010 000 4– 5 9 2
West High…000 210 3 – 6 7 4
Jessie Harder, Laynie Whitehead (7) and Taylor Libby. Grace Stockmaster and Anne Riley.
W – Laynie Whitehead. L – Grace Stockmaster.
2B – Jessie Puk (CRW); Madi Miller, Laynie Whitehead, Taylor Libby (ICW).