LA PORTE CITY - A second South Tama County Lady Trojans team made history during the 2012-2013 school year.
During the spring, the STC girls' track and field team won its first conference championship in school history. On Tuesday, the Lady Trojans' softball squad did something it hadn't done since most of its players were in diapers win a postseason game.
Although the official year is unknown, STC coaches, parents and those associated with the softball program believe the last time the Lady Trojans won a postseason contest was 1990. They ended that drought on the road Tuesday. South Tama (12-20) beat Union (10-16) 1-0.
South Tama County senior Riley Craun crosses home plate to score the winning run Tuesday night in La Porte City. Craun’s run gave STC a 1-0 victory over Union. Craun reached third base on an error in right field to lead off the sixth inning. Fellow senior Jade Rohach hit her home with an RBI single.
"Honestly, I'm still trying to process this in my head," senior Riley Craun said following the victory. "Like coach said, this is the first time in about 15 years that South Tama has won a playoff game. I'm feeling really good right now. I'm a bit excited."
STC head coach Chelsea Ahrens was excited after the game, but shocked at the final score.
"Wow! That was a great game," Ahrens said. "Going into this game, never in a million years would I have thought it would be 1-0. We are very evenly matched against them, but I was thinking 6-5 or 8-7. I knew it was going to be close, but lots of runs scored.
"I'm really proud of our girls and so excited for them to make history," she added. "It feels great for them and it's nice to be a part of it. I've known the potential they've had all along. This is my fifth year, so I've had Jade and Riley for five years. I've known their potential. When I came here, the juniors were in seventh grade. I saw their potential and I knew what they were capable of by the time they were juniors and seniors. They have a lot of potential in every sport, not just softball, and I'm so proud of them."
South Tama's pair of seniors made sure Tuesday's game at Union Community wasn't their last. They combined to score the only run of the night to help STC defeat Union and extend their final season in Columbia Blue and Black.
"We just came through with a key hit when we needed it," Ahrens said. "It's fitting that our seniors came through for us. What more could you want in what might have been our last game? It could have been their last game and they came through with the key hits."
Scoreless through five innings, South Tama broke the 0-0 tie during the sixth inning on Tuesday night. STC began the inning with the top of the lineup. Craun led off with a line drive opposite field shot to right field. The Knights' right fielder nearly made the catch, but the ball bounced off of her glove and rolled to the fence. Craun made a triple out of the hit and got herself in scoring position with zero outs.
"I'll be honest, I was kind of jogging, because I thought, 'there goes another one,'" Craun said. "Then I saw her drop it and then I knew I had to book it. I started booking it and when I got to third base, I was like, 'oh my gosh, I'm so out of breath.' I should have ran faster sooner. That felt really good, because the first couple hits weren't going my way and it was frustrating. It felt good to at least get one in there."
After junior Tori Appelgate struck out, senior Jade Rohach came up to the plate in what could have been her final at-bat ever. Rohach hit a blooper to short right field that barely stayed fair. Craun scored on Rohach's RBI single and gave STC a 1-0 lead.
Juniors Samantha Holtz and Hailee Weiss also reached base during the sixth inning. Holtz reached on a fielder's choice single when the Knights tagged out Rohach at second base. Weiss earned a walk and sophomore Naomi Hoskey (courtesy ran for Holtz) stole second base and advanced to third base on a passed ball. However, the Lady Trojans were unable to score another run.
Union threatened to tie the game or take the lead in the bottom of the inning. STC freshman Kallie Hala relieved Holtz on the mound in the sixth inning. Hala struck out the lead-off batter before the next two batters hit singles. The runners advanced to second and third on the hit and a dropped ball by Craun behind the plate. However, Hala shut down the Knights with a pair of strike outs to end their scoring threat.
The Knights had one last chance to tie or win the game in the seventh inning. Their lead-off batter hit a ground out to Hala at the mound. Their next batter hit a short fly ball to left-center field that was caught by a running Rohach. Then the final batter hit a short pop up to Hala, ending the game.
"There were runners on second and third and Kallie got that key strike out," Ahrens said. "Then she got the pop up to end the inning. It wasn't a very strong hitting game by either team, but you're going to have that when you get into the postseason. You're going to see better pitching and the nerves that set in at the plate."
Ahrens was proud of both pitchers. Holtz allowed two hits, while striking out one and walking two batters during her five innings. Hala also gave up two hits, but struck out three in two innings.
"That third and fourth batters had gotten hits off of Sam, so if they saw her again, I knew we might have some issues," Ahrens said of why she switched pitchers in the sixth inning. "They had smoked two up the middle, so I thought it was key that we bring in and they see a new pitcher. It worked out for us and it's something we're lucky with right now. Kallie did a nice job of throwing strikes."
Neither team had many scoring threats throughout the game. Union left a pair of runners on base during the third inning. The lead-off batter reached first on an error before the next batter also singled to get two runners on base. Then Craun took over and shut down the Knights.
Union's third batter hit a foul ball behind home plate that Craun tracked down and caught over her shoulder. The next batter hit a foul tip that was caught by Craun, who dove to her right side to make the catch. The fifth batter also hit a foul ball that Craun caught, recording her third out of the inning.
"That was the first time and it felt pretty good, too," Craun said of making all three outs in one inning of defense. "Even getting one on the dive felt pretty good, too. I roughed up my elbow a bit and it felt good."
South Tama played North Iowa Cedar League West Division rival East Marshall at 7 p.m. Friday in Le Grand.
"This is my love and my passion," Craun said. "I don't really want to end it yet and I'd like to go as far as we can. I'm looking forward to Friday's game."
It will be the third time the Trojans and Mustangs play this season. The Mustangs won both games by a close margin, 4-3 and 6-4.
"I don't think we're going to scare them," Ahrens said. "They know what we're capable of. It should be a great game."