Taken for Grant-ed: Iowa stuns No. 1 seed in semis
SULPHUR — Clinging to a one-run lead against No. 1 Grant Friday in the semifinals of the state softball tournament, No. 4 Iowa needed a boost.
Sophomore shortstop Calee Guillory, the nine-hole hitter, smashed her first home run of the season to spark an eight-run two-out rally in the second inning and propel the Yellow Jackets to an 11-5 win at North Frasch Park and the program’s first championship appearance.
“I just hit it,” Guillory said. “Let’s do it for the team, just win the game.
“We were just pumped that we scored that many (runs) on one of the greatest teams in our (class). We work on those situations so much. We go under pressure so much in practice. We were ready for it.”
Following Guillory’s big hit, Kamryn Broussard and Karagan Howard had run-scoring hits, and Lesley Lebleu drove in a pair of runs with a single up the middle. Kamryn Howard extended the rally with a two-run home run for a 9-1 lead.
“The girls were fired up,” Iowa head coach Kenzie Singletary said. “They were ready to play.
“They did a great job. They knew what they had to do and were as prepared as we could get them. They got the job done.
“All year long it has been a struggle to make a lineup. We know we have nine hot bats. All nine kids can swing it well. We have told them that if all nine of you show up it is going to be trouble. And our nine-hole got us going today with the home run. They all showed up, and all contributed.”
Iowa’s previous best run at the state tournament was a semifinal appearance in 2012.
” It has been nine years since the team has even been here,” Singletary said. “So now they are going to talk about the 2021 team. Our plan is to finish on top.”
Iowa (26-5) will play No. 3 Jena (24-8) at 11 a.m. today in the finals. Jena beat No. 7 Sterlington (21-12) 6-4 on Friday.
Iowa added single runs in the fourth and fifth innings to take an 11-1 lead on a fielder’s choice and a sacrifice fly by Broussard.
Junior pitcher Arlee Darbonne was steady with three strikeouts and one walk and kept the big-hitting Cougars (22-7) at bay most of the game other than a pair of solo home runs by Emi McGehee and Madelyn Rachal.
Darbonne got into trouble in the sixth when Grant loaded the bases, and again in the seventh, but got a pop-up to end both threats. She got the Cougars to pop up or fly out 14 times.
“I couldn’t have done it without them (the team),” Darbonne said. “They had my back every time.
“My nerves were really high, especially in the fifth inning; we needed one out, and I gave up (the home run). But we came back in, and my team always has my back, especially when Callie hit that bomb.”
Leadoff batter Ana Alexander went 3-for-3 for Iowa, scoring three times and stealing three bases. Broussard went 2-for-3 with three RBIs.
Iowa’s Ana Alexander celebrates scoring against Grant during the a Class 3A semifinal game Friady at the state softball tournament at North Frasch Park in Sulphur. The Yellow Jackets upset the top-seeded Cougars to reach the championship game for the first time in school history.