DENISON, Iowa – Sergeant Bluff-Luton has earned back-to-back berths in the Iowa Girls State Softball Tournament for the first time in school history after a come-from-behind 4-3 victory over Denison-Schleswig in a Class 4A regional final here Tuesday.
The No. 15 Warriors trailed ninth-ranked Denison-Schleswig 2-0 before three solo home runs gave them a lead. Denison-Schleswig tied it at 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth before Chloe Black rolled an RBI single into right field for what proved to be the winning run.
Winning pitcher Bradee Bouman, who was fortunate to escape the sixth with just one run allowed, gave up a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh and the Monarchs had the tying run at second base when Bouman got the final out on a grounder to shortstop.
“We knew how good a team they were, we played them earlier and it was a 10-9 game at 97 degrees and the wind blowing 40 miles-per-hour but we knew it wasn’t going to be like that,” SB-L Coach Tom Prince said. “We were down 2-0 and the girls kept battling with good at-bats. We hit so many balls to the left fielder that she must have broken in a glove out there tonight. We were hitting it hard but couldn’t get it out, then we got three of them and came through with the big hit in the seventh inning.”
Denison-Schleswig (29-5), falling in a regional final for the second straight season, took a 2-0 lead with unearned runs in the first and third innings. Sergeant Bluff-Luton committed three of its five errors in the first three frames.
Sophomore shortstop Kenzie Foley cut the deficit in half with a solo homer over the left field fence with one out in the fourth. Senior Taylor Brown, who was 3-for-3 at the plate, tied it with a solo shot to left in the fifth and sophomore Emma Christensen sent one over the center field fence to give SB-L a 3-2 advantage.
“I’ve been striking out a lot this season so if that was going to be the last game I thought I would show up,” Brown said. “We all pick each other up and play as a team really well. I’m glad we could win this game because it took everything we got. It was super nerve-wracking but we all dug in and if somebody made a mistake we really stepped up and helped each other out.”
Two straight walks and a bunt single loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the sixth for Denison-Schleswig. Bouman, though, struck out pinch-hitter Tatum Fink and after walking in the tying run, recorded another strikeout and averted further damage by coaxing a grounder to third from losing pitcher Sarah Heilesen, who hit 11 home runs this season.
“It’s your goal (state) every year and to go there two years in a row which has never happened at Sergeant Bluff is great,” Prince said. “It’s never bad going down there I know that.”
Bouman wound up striking out seven while allowing four hits. Sergeant Bluff-Luton (23-13) fished with seven hits off Heilesen, the pitcher of record in all 34 games for the Monarchs this season.
Brown’s home run was her fourth of the season, same for Foley, while Christensen connected for her second round-tripper.