BENTON — To win a state tournament, Charles City softball Coach Brian Bohlen assumed his team would, at some point, have to go through the top-ranked team in Class 4A.
Though they still have work to do, the Comets did just that in the Region 4 championship game Tuesday night.
Sami Heyer struck out nine and Charles City manufactured just enough offense to squeak out a 2-1 win over 4A No. 1 Benton Community on the Bobcats’ home field.
“It’s unbelievable,” Heyer said afterward. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but it’s exciting.”
Heyer got all her run support in the top of the third inning, thanks in part to some sluggish Bobcat fielding.
With Payton Reams on second, Tayler Schmidt hit a sharp grounder to third base. Wanting to keep Reams at second, Benton third baseman Angela Gorkow hesitated, allowing Schmidt to reach first safely, while also giving Reams a chance to reach third on the throw.
Reams then broke the scoreless tie, coming home to score
on a wild pitch. Having already taken second, Schmidt tried to take third on the play, then got to come all the way home as Bobcat catcher Jaicee Lyons threw the ball into left, giving the Comets a 2-0 lead.
The Bobcats cut into the lead in the fourth, when Gorkow scored on an errant throw home by Heyer. Lyons then attempted to score the tying run from second, but Comet catcher Kelby Katcher beat her home with the throw and Heyer tagged her out.
The error was one of the few mistakes Heyer made on the evening, and Bohlen praised her poise in the pitching circle.
“She hit spots all night,” he said. “Even when she worked behind, she trusted herself and I trusted her to hit spots.”
She was also able to work out of critical jams. Benton put the tying run on third in both the fourth and sixth innings, but Heyer never allowed it to come home.
“This year (I’ve) been real good at trying to forget (about the runner at third),” Heyer said. “I know they’re there but I try not to think about it. I just focus on the batter and whatever happens, happens.”
What happens next for Charles City is a return trip to the state tournament, something Bohlen believed to be an obtainable goal throughout the year.
“Going into the season, I said our goal is to win conference and win state,” he said. “I thought we honestly had the team to do it. I don’t know if they believed it at the time.
“But we weren’t intimidated (tonight). The girls went into this game very confident and it showed.”
When talking to his players, it’s apparent the doubts Bohlen spoke of are clearly a thing of the past.
“We just beat the No. 1 seed,” said Ciana Sonberg, who had three of the Comets’ five hits. “So I think we’re going to give every team a run for their money.”
Charles City 2, Benton 1
Charles City 002 000 0 — 2 5 1
Benton Comm. 000 100 0 — 1 4 2
Heyer and Katcher. Stenberg and Lyons. WP—Heyer. LP—Stenberg. 2B—Jaicee Lyons (B). Martensen (B).