Prep Softball: Beckman hangs tough and upsets No. 6 Monticello

By K.J. Pilcher, Reporter

MONTICELLO - If Dyersville Beckman softball doesn't have a theme song, it should strongly consider "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey.

The Blazers' confidence never wavered while pulling off a huge upset.

Beckman trailed by two heading into its final at-bat, got out of a jam to force extra innings and then claimed a 3-2 win in 11 innings over sixth-ranked Monticello in a Class 3A region 4 semifinal Friday night.

"It was a big win for us," Beckman pitcher Carley Vaske said. "We just kept the bats moving and we weren't under pressure. We went hit-by-hit and kept our composure to get those last final outs."

The Blazers came through when they needed it most. Vaske opened the top of the 11th off with a walk, giving way to courtesy runner Lauren Faust, who advanced to second on a groundout. Kayla Decker provided a key hit - her second of the game - that moved Faust to third. Amie Conrad came up and slid a grounder through the hole between shortstop and third base to score Faust.

"It was one of the greatest feelings in the world," Decker said about watching the go-ahead and winning run score.

Vaske closed out the Panthers in order, capping the game throwing eight straight scoreless innings.

"They just battled," Beckman Coach Jane Osterhaus said. "They never gave up or press. They made the adjustments."

Beckman was down to their final at-bat after trailing 2-0 since the second when a Kori Bohlken leadoff double and three straight errors on sacrifice bunts gave Monticello their only runs.

The Blazers started with three straight singles, including a base hit from Decker. Bridget Hogan's carifice bunt scored Decker, and then Abbie Decker's single to left field tie the game when Conrad scored.

Monticello answered in the bottom of the seventh and looked like they were going to stave off the upset. The Panthers loaded the bases with no outs. Vaske buckled down getting to force outs at home and ending the inning on a fly ball that bounced out of the center fielder Abbie Decker's glove, hit off shortstop Kayla Decker and then caught by Abbie Decker.

"Everything was clutch on our part," Osterhaus said. "We got the groundballs when we needed them.

"Defense stayed solid. The hitters dialed in. It was phenomenal."

The Panthers (35-6) were one of the most potent offenses, leading 3A in runs scored, second in the class with 435 hits and their .373 batting average was fifth. Vaske allowed two unearned runs and four hits and struck out seven. She improved to 10-10.

Osterhaus praised her toughness and composure.

"It's good to have a kid like that on the mound," Osterhaus said. "These pressure situations you know she won't get rocked."

Beckman entered the postseason with twice as many losses than wins. The Blazers improved to 15-26 after downing the Panthers and a solid Cascade team. Others may not have believed they would be a win from state, but Osterhaus said she didn't have to tell her team their best was needed for postseason play and the regular season means nothing now.

"Our schedule is so tough," said Osterhaus, noting they play some 4A and 5A teams, and compete in the tough Wamac Conference. "We knocked and beat up a little bit but ultimately what happens is it comes down to this is the time of year everything matters.

"Your season prepares you for this right here. Things are just clicking right now."

The Blazers don't concede anything to anyone and know they control their own destiny. Of course, they believed they could be in this spot.

"We really believe in each other," Decker said. "If we have our mind set, we believe we can do anything."

Beckman faces Waukon in the regional final Monday at West Union, starting at 7 p.m.
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