Locked and Loaded: Clear Creek Amana Stuns Marion With Epic Six-Run Rally to Return to State Tournament
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OXFORD – Early this season the Clear Creek Amana softball team adopted a simple phrase.
“Locked and loaded” served as a reminder that no matter the circumstances, the team would persevere as one.
It would be difficult to imagine a more fitting example of that raw determination than what transpired on Tuesday night.
“It was the craziest game I have been part of,” Clear Creek Amana co-head coach Jodie Scheetz said after the eighth-ranked Clippers scored six runs in the bottom of the 11th inning and stunned No. 12 Marion, 11-10, in a Class 4A regional final at McAreavy Field. “We came in that last inning and they had the determination. They said, ‘We are going to win this thing still, even down five runs.’ Can’t ask for anything more than that.”
After the first three extra frames failed to produce runs for either team, Marion (26-12) came to bat in the top of the 11th with the score deadlocked at 5-5.
A sacrifice fly from junior Gracie Goad produced a go-ahead run, which soon gave way to four more via a grand slam from Marion junior Jazlyn Grosskreutz.
Suddenly, the Clippers were on the wrong end of a 10-5 deficit heading to the bottom half of the 11th inning.
It was time to put ‘locked and loaded’ to the ultimate test.
“We wanted this more than anybody out there,” Clear Creek Amana sophomore pitcher Ashley Webb said. “We showed that we wanted it.”
The 11th-inning rally began with back-to-back singles from sophomore Olivia Miller and senior Ellie Crow.
Freshman Reese Stockman got the Clippers within 10-7 with a two-run double before an out was recorded.
“I was just looking for a strike,” Stockman said. “I was ready for it.”
A pair of walks sandwiched around a strikeout loaded the bases, but a force out at home plate brought the Clippers to their final out with the bases loaded, still trailing by three runs.
Cue the fairytale ending.
“We haven’t gone 11 innings just to lose,” senior Gabrielle Bedford said.
Junior Emma Mathis hit a grounder up the middle, but the Marion defense was unable to convert a force out at second base. As the ball tumbled to the dirt, two more CCA baserunners raced home.
Bedford stepped to the plate with runners on first and second and the CCA deficit down to one. Among her teammates, there was little doubt that she would deliver the win.
“Oh no,” Webb said. “I was like, ‘Just hit it out, please. Come on. You have got this’.”
Bedford ripped an opposite-field double down the third-base line, which brought home the tying run, the winning run and a jubilant mob of Clippers.
“It was what (CCA Co-Coach) Ken (Thimmesch) told me before,” Bedford said. “He said, ‘Hey, you’re a good hitter. Just focus and do your job.’ And there wasn’t a second that I doubted. I saw it coming in and I just went up there and I did my job and I couldn’t be happier.”
The win gave CCA (29-9) a state-best 35th state softball berth and its first since 2014.
The Clippers earned a No. 6 seed and will open the state tournament against third-seeded ADM (25-10) on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. at Harlan Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge.
“I couldn’t be more happy,” Bedford said. “It is so emotional right now. I am so excited.”
Clear Creek Amana junior Bailey Olerich reached base five times, scored three runs and drove in a run.
Webb pitched all 11 innings for the first time in her softball career and struck out 14.
With her team two outs from victory in the top of the seventh inning, Webb surrendered a two-run home run to her Marion pitching counterpart, Megan Kessens, that once again had CCA on the ropes.
As a precursor of things to come, Miller’s RBI double in the bottom of the seventh inning tied the game at 5-5 and ushered in the extra-inning marathon.
There is that example of perseverance again, which will be a necessary component of any Fort Dodge success.
“Stay together,” Webb said. “We have such a great bond that was created over the year. I love these guys like family.”