By Chris Umscheid
North Liberty Leader
IOWA CITY– A lesser pitcher may have crumbled, a lesser team may have folded. For Jeff Kelley’s West High Women of Troy, Saturday night’s Class 5A regional semifinal against the Lady Mustangs of Dubuque Hempstead may have been just a little bump on the road to the state tournament in Fort Dodge.
An excessive heat warning expired as the game began, yet conditions were still stifling for the 4-1 West win.
As the visitors, West came to bat first with lead-off hitter Tatum Klein, Brianna Sturtz and Shelly Stumpff going down one, two, three. In the second inning Madi Miller singled, stole second and made third on an error but was stranded. The third inning saw the Women of Troy come to life as Mikaela Morgan singled and Grace Tafolla hit an RBI single to bring Morgan home. Tatum Klein reached first on a bunt and advanced with courtesy runner Kailey Klein on a sacrifice by Sturtz. Stumpff singled and stole second while a Lady Mustang tried to decide where to make the play. In the confusion, Kailey Klein scored. A wild pitch allowed Tatum Klein to score and West was up, 3-0.
Hempstead scored one run in the bottom of the third inning on an illegal pitch call against Mackenzie Laux. Laux, a senior, found herself in the middle of a Petri dish under the microscope of both umpires in general and the home plate umpire in particular. Numerous illegal pitch calls were made against her, leading to at least two lengthy discussions between the ump and Coach Jeff Kelley. One issue regarded Laux’s footwork on the rubber; the other had to do with her hand position and taking signs. While Laux was visibly rattled, Kelley and catcher Michaela Recker kept her focused and the battle continued.
Miller scored in the top of the fourth after a walk, stealing second, advancing on a Morgan Ryan sacrifice, and a trip home on another wild pitch.
Laux continued to hammer the Lady Mustangs, holding them scoreless for the remainder of the game.
Klein, Recker, Miller, Morgan and Tafolla had one base hit each with RBIs credited to Stumpff and Tafolla. Laux threw all seven innings striking out seven and walking three. She gave up only four hits and one unearned run for the win. West’s record improved to 35-6 heading into a Tuesday, July 10, Class 5A regional final at home against Cedar Rapids Prairie. The Women of Troy entered the post-season with a No. 9 ranking in the final Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union standings issued Thursday, July 5.