Demons clipped by CCA
In the playoffs, all records can be thrown out.
That was the case for both Washington and Clear Creek Amana as they met for the regional final on Tuesday night in Cedar Rapids.
When the brackets came out, not many people expected either of these teams to be in the final, but the Demons (16-21 coming into the game) had upset the No. 7 ranked team in the state, Davenport Assumption, while Clear Creek (21-17 before the game) knocked off No. 5 Cedar Rapids Xavier to get to the final.
Washington looked to continue its unlikely run to a third straight state tournament appearance, but the Clippers were able to get an early jump on the Demons and didn’t look back, as they defeated Washington 6-1 to earn a state berth.
“I felt like we were a little bit nervous in the first inning and had a different fire and desire in this game,” Washington head coach Angie Shrader said. “It was more nerves instead of that taking care of business mentality we had at Assumption. Once they scored the first run, our kids panicked a bit and we couldn’t get going.”
In the first three innings, Washington got its leadoff batter on base, but was unable to capitalize, leaving all three of the runners in scoring position.
In the meantime, Clear Creek started building its lead.
A run scored on a passed ball in the first inning, then a groundout brought home another in the second.
The biggest inning of the game for the Clippers came in the bottom of the third, as back-to-back RBI singles drove in two runs to give Clear Creek a 4-0 lead.
“They put runs on the board almost every inning and put the pressure on and we couldn’t string anything together,” Shrader said. “We were chasing that pitcher’s rise ball and not being disciplined at the plate. When we did move runners to scoring position we couldn’t get that timely hit to bring someone in.”
Washington started to put together a small rally in the fifth inning, as Chayse Jaspering reached on a one-out single, then a two-out double by Ashley Rausch brought her home, but a fly out ended the inning for the Demons.
The Clippers picked up runs in the bottom of the fifth and sixth to make it 6-1, and shut down the Demons in order to pick up their state-best 34th appearance in the state tournament.
After a tough loss ended their season, the Demons certainly didn’t lack one thing according to Shrader: desire.
“There is no ‘quit’ in them,” Shrader said. “They have the desire and the want. They know what it’s like to be at state, being there the last two years, and now the younger kids can see what it’s like to be in the regional final and have this heartbreak. Hopefully they’ll be able to come in during the offseason and put some time and effort in and be ready to play next year.”
Taking a quick glace at next year, the Demons lose five seniors, including their top two pitchers, and top four hitters in terms of batting average heading into 2015, but return a young cast of players that will be instrumental for the next couple of years for Washington softball.
Morgan Brinning (.273 average) and Kayla Andrew (.260 average) are two of the young players who saw extensive playing time as eighth-graders this season, and are the top two returning average hitters for the Demons, who will look to return to state next year.
“If they believe that they deserve to be at state and they work hard for it, they can do it,” Shrader said. “That’s what these young kids need to understand. They have the ability to get there, and if they can understand that, we can work hard to get there.”