Kee softball team wins first two regional tests, has hopes of a Class 1A State Tournament “three-peat” derailed by ninth-rated Lisbon in eight-inning battle

Two runs scored, four driven in ... Kee softball junior shortstop Makayla Walleser rounds second base in the Hawks’ 11-0 home victory over Central Elkader in the Class 1A Region 4 quarterfinals Tuesday, July 3. Walleser scored a pair of runs and also drove in four more in that quarter-final round victory. Photo by Macie Hill. View and find out how to purchase this photo and many more by clicking on the Photo Galleries link on this website.

No team could do it in Kee softball’s previous 14 postseason games.

Only two teams had done it in the softball Hawks’ previous 23 postseason games - one of those teams being a State Champion.

And it took a veteran coach with more than 1,100 career coaching wins, along with a determined overall young group hungry to get their program back to the State Tournament for the first time since 2004, to get it done in a Monday, July 9 Class 1A Region 4 championship game in New Albin, as the ninth-rated Lisbon Lions ended the Kee softball team’s reign over Class 1A just short of a third consecutive State Tournament berth and a chance to “three-peat” as Class 1A’s State Tournament champion. The 32-8 Lions used two singles wrapped around a Hawk error in the top of the eighth inning to post a 2-0 upset of a Kee team that had sat atop Class 1A in rankings and the final State Tournament results since the program’s first State Championship to end the 2016 season. Even more impressive is the fact that Lisbon was able to pull off that feat on the Hawks’ home field, where they had won 29 consecutive games, again, dating back to early June of that history-making 2016 season.

Prior to that season-ending regional finals loss, the Lady Hawks had added two more postseason victims to their streak of 14 consecutive tournament wins. Kee first blasted fellow Upper Iowa Conference foe Central Elkader by an 11-0 count at home in five innings Tuesday, July 3 before pulling out another tough battle against a team from the same conference as Lisbon, a 2-1 triumph in eight innings over Central City Friday, July 6, also played at home.

The July 9 regional finals loss to Lisbon brings Kee’s 2018 season to a close with a 35-6 overall record. That season mark includes a streak that still remains intact, as the Hawks posted a third consecutive undefeated Upper Iowa Conference (UIC) championship season for its fifth consecutive UIC crown as the Hawks’ conference winning streak expanded to 60 games this season.

The Hawks were certainly not alone in what would be considered an upset loss for denial of a State Tournament berth, as only five teams rated within the season-ending top-15 Class 1A rankings advanced to this season’s grand finale in Fort Dodge. Among those denied was fellow top-five ranked Clarksville, who lost to Janesville by another heart-breaking final, 1-0, Monday night as well. Of the top-five ranked teams in Class 1A competing for State Tournament berths in Monday night action, the Hawks faced arguably the stiffest test with the highest rated opponent in the ninth-rated Lisbon Lions, with second-rated Collins-Maxwell and two Kee State Tournament rivals, third-rated Akron-Westfield and fourth-rated AGWSR, each advancing to this season’s grand finale.

To further any Hawk consolation, only one other number-one rated team in all of the five classes of Iowa high school softball this season has clinched a State Tournament berth, that being Class 3A defending State Champion Davenport Assumption. Class 5A top-ranked Pleasant Valley was scheduled to play Tuesday, July 10 for its shot at a State Tournament berth, with the top-rated teams in Classes 1A, 2A and 4A all being left home for this year’s season grand finale.

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