Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – The City High softball team hadn’t even batted yet, but already trailed upset-minded West High by two runs on Saturday.
But then it took just two swings to even the score and a third swing to give the Little Hawks a three-run lead that ultimately turned into a 9-2 victory in a Class 5A regional semifinal at City High.
Juniors Ella Cook and Cary Koenig belted back-to-back solo home runs in the bottom of the first inning and senior Brook Bormann smacked a three-run blast in the first inning as City High moved one step from making the state tournament for the third consecutive season.
Class 5A No. 5 City High improved to 18-4 and will face eighth-ranked Muscatine (17-2) with a trip to the state tournament on the line on Tuesday at home, while West High finished 8-15 on the season.
“We went into it saying let’s find pitches that we can square up and tonight we did a good job,” said City High coach Jeff Koenig, who is Cary Koenig’s father. “We looked for balls that we could hit hard and we did it.
“But we got a couple of walks, so okay, now find a ball that you can hit hard and there’s a three-run homer.”
The fact that City High is in this position hardly is a surprise, considering it finished third at the state tournament last season. But there has been uncertainty throughout the season due to the impact from the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Games have been cancelled with little notice, and some teams have even had their seasons cancelled because of concerns about the highly contagious Coronavirus.
“It’s been a roller coaster, it’s been so different because of Covid,” said Cary Koenig, who also hit a two-run home run in the second inning. “There was a week where we were supposed to play like six games and we didn’t get to play any of those. So that definitely hurt us a lot, but I have full faith that we’d bounce back in this game. I just know we’re going to come through.
“It’s been a roller coaster, but I think that we’re on our up-hill now and everything is looking good.”
Eva Burbidge led off the game for West High with a walk and then scored on a throwing error. Catcher Rylee Goodfellow then drove in West High’s second run with a single up the middle, and suddenly the Women of Troy had a two-run lead and some momentum.
It didn’t last long though as City High immediately went on the attack on offense.
“I knew that we would come back,” Cary Koenig said. “And I knew that our hitting was good enough to just attack pitches. And once we stay calm, if we start to panic over those things, then it goes downhill.
“So I was just as a catcher trying to make everybody stay calm and just get the outs, and I knew we would be okay after that.”
Burbidge pitched all six innings for West High and she actually got stronger as the game progressed. She only allowed one run after the second inning, and that came on a solo home run by opposing pitcher Ayana Lindsey.
Burbidge had retired 11 consecutive batters before Lindsey smacked City High’s fifth home run of the game.
“We’re always trying to make adjustments and she did a nice job responding to it,” West High coach Barb Lynn said of Burbidge. “It’s just something that you’ve got to do throughout a game in terms of offense, in terms of pitching, in terms of defense.”
Lindsey scattered four hits on the mound and had eight strikeouts while pitching a complete game for City High
Jeff Koenig was encouraged with how his team responded to the early deficit on Friday.
The Little Hawks have struggled on offense recently, including being held to just one hit in a loss to Pleasant Valley.
“The way the last few games have gone, we were like, okay, we let them have two, but I was very proud of them that they just came back and we got balls squared up and we got the lead and then we just said, ‘okay, we’re okay,”’ Jeff Koenig said.
Barb Lynn was proud of her players for persevering through a strange season that was filled with uncertainties and obstacles.
“From day one, we were just happy to be out here and getting the opportunity to play softball,” Lynn said. “And throughout the season, there’s always ups and downs, and I think that’s something that we always went back on that we were grateful that we were having a season.
“And each day we tried to take advantage of that and get after the opportunities, because quite honestly, the season, you really didn’t know if you’d get shut down or when you’d get shut down, or if you’d make it to postseason, which we did and we’re happy about that.”
West High 200 000 0 – 2 4 0
City High 530 001 x – 9 7 2
W – Ayana Lindsey L – Eva Burbidge
2B – ICW: Kiahna Hill
HR – ICH: Cary Koenig (2) Ella Cook, Brook Bormann, Ayana Lindsey.