CHARLES CITY — Center Point-Urbana found out the hard way that the road to the Class 4A state softball tournament runs through Charles City these days.
The fourth-ranked Comets wiped out an early deficit Tuesday and pocketed their third straight state tournament berth with a 6-1 victory over the Stormin’ Pointers in the regional finals.
Center Point-Urbana took advantage of Charles City’s only error in the top of the first to grab a 1-0 lead, but it didn’t last long as the Comets drew even in the bottom of the second when Kelby Katcher singled home Peyton Reams.
“To get down 1-0 and handle the pressure that well and to respond that well was unbelievable,” said Charles City head coach Brian Bohlen. “We were on the brink and you could feel it was coming.”
The Comets took a 2-1 lead in the third with the help of two errors, and then the breakout Bohlen anticipated arrived in the bottom of the fourth.
First, 8th-grader Ashlyn Hoeft delivered an RBI double. Then Tayler Schmidt smashed a two-run homer to left to make it a 5-1 game.
The big lead helped Comets pitcher Samantha Heyer and the defense behind her settle down.
“I give props to my teammates because I do get hitters on early a lot,” said Heyer. “They helped me settle in and get comfortable out there.”
Heyer had five of her seven strikeouts after the third inning and allowed just two Stormin’ Pointer base hits.
Hoeft tacked on an insurance run with an impressive blast in the sixth inning to make it 6-1.
“Ashlyn doesn’t play with an eighth-grader’s mentality,” said Bohlen of his young first baseman. “She and Rachel Chambers give us a good balance of youth and experience on this team.”
Center Point-Urbana finished at 22-17.
“They made the plays they needed to and credit to them,” said Stormin’ Pointer first-year coach Shane Light of the Comets.
“A lot of people didn’t think we would even be here, but we’re developing from beginning to end. I’m proud of the team and they’re a special bunch to me.”
Bohlen, meanwhile, sees a Charles City team that is playing well and has what it takes to challenge for a state championship.
“The team that showed up tonight is THE team,” said the Comets’ skipper.
Chas. City 6, CP-Urbana 1
Center Pt.-Urb. 100 000 0 — 1 2 3
Charles City 011 301 x— 6 12 1
Natalea Cook and Logan Neal. Samantha Heyer and Kelby Katcher. WP — Heyer. LP — Cook. 2B — Madeline Peters (CC), Plivia Brecht (CPU), Ashlyn Hoeft (CC). HR — Tayler Schmidt (CC), Ashlyn Hoeft (CC).