ADEL — Maddison Thayer fought back tears as she tried to explain her joy of hitting her fifth home run of the season on Saturday. The two-run shot put Newton High’s Cardinals up 2-1 in the top of the seventh inning.
Unfortunately, Class 4A second-ranked ADM was the hosting team in Saturday’s Class 4A Region 1 semifinal. The Tigers ripped away the celebration for the Cardinals by scoring two runs on a two-out, bases-loaded double by eighth-grader Aliya Yanger.
ADM, which was the 2018 4A state tournament runner-up and defeated Newton in a state semifinal last year, advances to the Region 1 championship game on Tuesday. It hosts 4A No. 14 Oskaloosa. Oskaloosa beat No. 13 Norwalk 4-1.
Newton senior Peyton Maher and ADM junior Abbie Hlas — both pitched in the state tournament semifinal game last year — had been in control in the circle through the first five innings. The teams were scoreless.
Maher had scattered three hits by the Tigers. Hlas had a no-hitter going.
Yanger led off the Tiger sixth with a solo home run off Maher. The ball went over the center field fence hitting one of the poles of the ADM scoreboard.
Maher broke up Hlas’ no-hit bid with a one-out single to center field in the top of the seventh. Thayer was Newton’s next batter.
“I was just looking for anything when I went up there,” Thayer said. “Peyton got us a baserunner and I just wanted to get a hit.”
Thayer got a hit — a rocket over the left center field fence. Courtesy runner Grace Benson crossed the plate first.
“It was great rounding third and seeing my teammates waiting for me at home,” Thayer said. “I knew I had put my team ahead. We were confident we could hold it.”
ADM opened its half of the seventh with a single to left field by senior Emily Hatchitt. Maher notched her ninth strikeout of the game then issued a walk to freshman Olivia Tollari.
Newton used an intentional walk to Hlas for the third time in the game. Hlas is ADM’s top hitter with a .561 batting average.
The bases were loaded and Maher coaxed an infield fly by freshman Brynn Busta. Newton was one out away from the regional championship game.
Yanger cranked a double to center field bringing in two runs for the walk-off victory for the Tigers.
“The kids played well— so close,” Newton head coach Casey Price said after the game. “We scouted them so well and you have to give ADM credit at the end.”
During the game, Price said she kept telling her players they were going to get it. She said the Cardinals were hitting the ball but right at people.
“We were hitting her (Hlas) but they were right there and I knew we’d find a gap or two,” Price said. “We have to get runners on and keep after her.”
Price said she knew one of her players would hit a home run because the ADM park was a hitters’ park.
In the loss on Saturday to end the season, Maher (16-10) allowed six hits, walked three and struck out nine. She finished with 205 strikeouts this season and 653 for her career (59-35).
Maher’s single and Thayer’s home run were the only hits for the Cardinals.
Price said she put her team in the Iowa City tournament this season to play tougher games to prepare for the run to the state tournament again. She said the Cardinals were playing well down the stretch of the season.
“It’s about getting to the state tournament. The girls worked hard and didn’t give up,” Price said.
Thayer said the team went through a lot of ups and downs this season. Newton finished at 18-16.
“But at the end we peaked a lot and we’ve grown a lot as team. I’m really proud how we played the whole season,” Thayer said. “It’s tough to end it like this but we played well tonight.”
Price said the four seniors — Maher, Thayer, Mac Brown and Lakin Jenkins — will be missed.
“They played well all year. Maddi had a little slump in her hitting but we got her mentally back in a good spot and she’s been crushing it of late. Peyton has had a great season throwing,” Price said.
“Mac is such a competitor. She’s a gritty, gritty kid who finds a way to get on base. Lakin is such a positive force for the entire team and does what she needs to for the team.”
Newton had to bring along some younger players to fill roles at the varsity level this season. Price said it was about getting those players as much experience as possible.
“They can play three games a day and we had a lot of the younger kids doing just that. We’ll get back at it and build for next year,” Price said.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at
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