CEDAR RAPIDS — Maddison Woodruff deserved a little extra ice, a helping of ibuprofen and some rest.
The senior pitcher earned it, demonstrating her toughness and delivering a gem for Coe.
Woodruff struck out 11 batters, allowing just four hits in the top-seeded Kohawks’ 3-1 victory in the Iowa Conference softball tournament Friday at Clark Field. Coe faces No. 2 seed in the winner’s bracket final at noon Saturday.
The shoulder injury was diagnosed right before Coe’s late-February softball trip to Florida. She has endured cortisone shots and physical therapy, leaving her final season in question.
“I didn’t know how this season was supposed to go,” Woodruff said. “I was just going to give it my all and see what happens.”
Woodruff was pleasantly surprised, earning her first IIAC tournament win and improving to 20-2. Coe Coach Bob Timmons said Woodruff is mentally tough player and has “sucked it up” to produce for the Kohawks. She is wired that way.
“If I gave her the ball every day, she’d go out there,” said Timmons, who won his 900th career game earlier this season. “She’s that much of a competitor.”
She was impressive Friday, striking out seven in the first three innings and giving up just one hit through five. Despite some struggles in the last two innings, she buckled down to end rallies. Woodruff ended Simpson’s sixth by fielding a grounder and then notched a strikeout and groundout to close the seventh.
“For some reason the four years I’ve been here I always seem to be really calm and collected when we play Simpson,” Woodruff said. “I enjoy playing them. They are good competition. I just know every time we play them I have to bring my “A” game by throwing as hard as I can.”
Woodruff, IIAC Pitcher of the Year last season, worked quick and got in a rhythm early. Retiring the Storm in order to start was important, and confidence was high after striking out the side in the third.
“I noticed if I’m going to have a rough inning it’s going to be the first one,” Woodruff said. “I’m kind of nervous when I go out there, but I always know that as long as I have a good first inning more than likely I will just keep getting better throughout the game.”
It also came on the heels of Taylor Riedl’s solo home run to center field, putting Coe up, 1-0. The Kohawks added two more in their half of the third. Emily Grell led off with a single and pinch runner, Erin Lang, scored four batters later on an error of Abby Flannagan’s grounder. Danielle Schlotterbeck drove in Nicole Gentile with a sacrifice fly.
“When you get up three runs, it makes things easier,” Timmons said. “Your pitch selection is a little better and it takes a little edge off. You play a little more at ease. With a number of freshmen in the lineup, it’s a good thing.”
Simpson’s Tori Haag was hit by a Woodruff pitch with two out in the sixth. Rachel Guessford and Hailey Jensen hit consecutive singles for the Storm’s lone run. Jensen led Simpson (26-14) with two hits.
Riedl finished with two hits and Briana Gardner added one for Coe (34-6).
“We hit it hard,” Timmons said. “We had a lot of hard outs, which were hit right at them.”
LUTHER 5, BUENA VISTA 4 (8) — Kristen Winter experienced a happy homecoming. The former Cedar Rapids Xavier prep powered the second-seeded Norse past the Beavers with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the eighth.
“I learned in the past if you try to hit a home run it’s not going to work so I just go up thinking I need to get on base so my teammates can move me around and hit me in,” said Winter, who drove her fifth home run of the season over the left-field fence. “If the ball was there I was looking for a base hit.”
Winter provided two key base hits earlier in the game, driving in a run in the first and in the fifth. The last put Luther up, 4-0, before Buena Vista scored three in the sixth and one in the seventh to force extra innings. Winter finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs.
“She is one of the hardest outs in our batting order,” Luther Coach Renae Hartl said. “She has a fantastic sense of a strike zone and never deviates from it.”
Kelsey Rose had two hits and Miranda McCay scored twice for Luther (28-6).
Sam Engleman had two hits and Lesa Turnquist and Mikaela Millslagle drove in two apiece for Buena Vista (14-20).
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