WAPELLO, Iowa — Sam Smith lost three weeks of her senior season due to a quad strain. The Wapello standout made up for lost time Wednesday night.
Smith pitched all seven innings of Wednesday’s Class 2A region 8 matchup against Cardinal, and she struck out nine and allowed just one run in an 8-1 Wapello win Wednesday night.
“It feels good to come back and show them what I can do,” Smith said.
Wapello (15-12) fell behind 1-0 in first inning on its home field but got on the board in the second on an RBI double by Toni Bohlen. The Wapello sophomore finished 3-3 with four RBIs, and the Arrows scored two runs in the second inning and four in the third to blow the game open.
Now, Wapello faces an unexpected opponent in the Class 2A Region 8 semifinals in West Branch, which upset Class 2A No. 7 Iowa City Regina. The game will be played at Regina Friday at 7 p.m.
“They just came in fired up and ready to go today,” Wapello coach Ashley Hahnbaum said. “I don’t expect any less come Friday.”
The win marked the first postseason win for Hahnbaum, who took over the Wapello softball program this season after graduating from the University of Northern Iowa.
However, things started a bit shaky for the Arrows.
Caitlyn Reber hit a leadoff single to start the game for the Comets (13-14) and she later scored off a sacrifice fly by Maddie Cloke. Cardinal loaded the bases in the second inning but Smith, after walking the previous two batters, worked out of trouble by forcing Reber to fly out.
“I was kind of upset with myself,” Smith said. “I told myself ‘we have to get through this. I need to get my head.’”
The senior did just that, as she allowed just five hits and no runs over the next five innings.
Wapello got on the board in the second inning when Bohlen ripped an outside pitch for an RBI double. Wapello scored another run in the inning before taking control in the third inning against a new pitcher.
“Usually it’s not the outside pitch (I’m looking for) but I got ahold of it on that one,” Bohlen said. “I knew I had girls on base so I knew I had to get a hit somehow. I couldn’t pop up, drop my hands or any of that crap.”
The Arrows had four runs and four hits in the inning. Bohlen hit a two-RBI single in the inning, and both Serah Shafer and Mady Reid had RBIs as well after struggling against slow-throwing Cardinal starting pitcher Ava Ferrell in the first two innings.
“We’ve preached to them the game is 90% mental and 10% physical,” Hahnbaum said. “I just told them it’s just another game. I knew we were ready to go, we had good batting practice.”
The Arrows tacked on two more insurance runs in the fifth inning, one of which came on an inside the park home run by Mady Reid. The junior roped a shot down the left field line that got by a diving Ashley Strong.
“She hit that gap and she’s very quick,” Hahnbam said of Reid. “We had her going (home) the whole way.”
Bohlen smacked another RBI single for good measure, as Wapello punched its ticket to the regional semifinals in a suddenly wide open bracket after losses by Regina and Class 2A No. 11 Wilton.
“We did what we’ve been doing all season,” Hahnbaum said. “We’re going to go at (Friday) like it’s just another game, too.”