After spending two years at New London, Addyson Kellen returned to the West Burlington-Notre Dame high school softball team. She simply missed being with her friends.
No one was happier to have Kellen back in the nest on Wednesday night than the Lady Falcons. Kellen made the defensive play of the game, throwing a perfect strike to pitcher Lauren Summers, who whirled and threw a perfect strike to catcher Lexy Davis to cut down Davis County's Madison Dunlavy at the plate to keep the Mustangs off the coach.
Kellen's play helped propel WB-ND to a 7-2 victory over Davis County in a Class 3A regional quarterfinal game at Barb Carter Field.
WB-ND (24-11) advances to play ninth-ranked Camanche (31-9) in a regional semifinal game at 7 p.m. Friday at Camanche. The Indians advanced with a 15-0 win over Tipton.
It may have seemed an innocuous play at the moment, but Kellen's throw from center field turned the tide of the game.
"It was a risk you have to take. Big risk, big reward. It worked out good," Kellen said. "I depend on my infielders. I'm not looking at where the runners are. I just hear them, what they're saying and then I saw she was trying to go home so I threw it as far as I could and hit Lauren. She was right there for the cut and threw her out."
"Even Monday night against Fort Madison, we didn't win the ball game, but we played really well," WB-ND head coach David Oleson said. "This team is on track to be one of my best defensive teams ever, percentage-wise. They continue to amaze me and make the plays. They surprised me when Addy made a great throw and Lauren made the cutoff and Lauren turned and fired to Lexy to get the out at home. That probably changed the ball game. They make that score there, they think they've got a chance. That was a huge play."
The night started in record-setting fashion for the Lady Falcons. Eighth-grade pitcher Lauren Summers struck out Sophia Young to start the game. It was Summers' 239th strikeout of the season, breaking the record set by Kaitlyn Caston in 2011, the year WB-ND finished as state runner-up. Ironically, Summers also fanned the Mustangs' final batter of the game.
"She had tied Kaitlyn Caston's season record of strikeouts with 238 Monday night against Fort Madison. The first batter here she struck out and set the new ongoing record. That's a big plus," Oleson said.
WB-ND broke a scoreless tie with four runs in the second inning.
The Lady Falcons loaded the bases with two outs on a double by Reagan Engberg, a walk to Lexy Davis and an infield single by Morgan Flowers. Raven Messamaker, who had been in a slump at the plate, looped a slap single over the infield to score Engberg with the game's first run.
"I felt a lot of pressure, but I went through with it and went right to the spot," Messamaker said. "I was pretty nervous going in because the bases were loaded with two outs. I didn't want to let the team down and end it there. I just went in and said, 'I've got to hit this. You can do this.' I had a couple of foul balls and finally I got that pitch and i just hit it right to the spot."
"She's been struggling a little bit. It's kind of like Morgan Flowers. She seems to come up with a hit when it's absolutely needed and it lifts up the team. It gets us up to that next level that we need," Oleson said.
Courtesy runner Molly Johnson scored on a wild pitch and Makenna Davis followed with a two-run double to right to put the Lady Falcons up, 4-0.
WB-ND tacked on two more runs in the fifth on a two-run double by Lexy Davis which chased home Kellen and courtesy runner Natalie Vandenberg.
"She had been popping it up. I actually had her move closer to the pitcher about two inches. I could tell that if we would make that little bit of adjustment, it would help. Sure enough she got that double. Those were two big runs. They are listening to us and doing a good job of it," Oleson said of Lexy Davis.
Davis County (11-18) scratched out nine hits against Summers, including a two-run single by Ashton Madden in the sixth inning which brought the Mustangs within 6-2.
"That's something that we'll work on. We need to mix up our pitches a little bit more. We have to make sure that we're hitting the outside part of the plate. We'll make the adjustment," Oleson said. "I told their coach, 'You've got a good little team here. You've got a lot to build on and take pride in what you've got coming in the next couple years."
WP — Lauren Summers (22-9). LP — Sydney Henderson (2-5). Leading hitters — Davis County: Bailea Yahnke 4-4, Sophia Young 2-4. West Burlington-Notre Dame: Addyson Kellen 2-3l Morgan Flowers 2-3, Makenna Davis 2-4. 2B — Davis, Reagan Engberg (WB-ND), Lexy Davis (WB-ND). RBI — Davis County: Ashton Madden 2; West Burlington-Notre Dame: M.Davis 2, L.Davis 2, Madelyn Stutsman 1, Raven Messamaker 1.
Records: Davis County 11-18, West Burlington-Notre Dame 24-11.