Kee baseball team claims Class 1A District Championship, advances to first Substate berth since 2017 with wins over Wapsie Valley and South Winn

Championship chat ... Members of the Kee baseball team gather in the outfield as the scoreboard in the background at Shooky Fink Field tells the tale of the Hawks’ 4-2 win at home over South Winneshiek Saturday, July 17 in the Class 1A District 4 Championship game. Following the Hawks’ 3-1 home victory over Wapsie Valley in Class 1A district semifinals play Tuesday, July 13, the Hawks were matched up with their fellow Upper Iowa Conference season champions in that district title bout, with the Kee boys benefiting from a two-out South Winneshiek error in the bottom of the sixth inning to score two runs that proved to be the difference in the game’s final score. The district championship victory is the first claiming of that title for a Kee baseball team since the 2017 season and advanced the Hawks to the Class 1A Substate 2 Championship game scheduled for Tuesday, July 20 at Charles City at 7 p.m. against Northwood-Kensett, with the winner of that substate contest advancing on to the Class 1A State Tournament to be played at Merchants Park in Carroll Monday, July 26 through Thursday, July 29. Kee baseball’s last State Tournament qualification took place during the 2011 season. Photo by Danielle Potter.

The Kee baseball team’s postseason path would end up crossing this past week with a pair of teams the Hawks had fallen to in back-to-back games nearly three weeks earlier. Fortunately, Kee’s diamond dwellers would avenge both of those regular season losses with a pair of two-run triumphs at home that have now pushed the Hawks to their first District Championship and Substate berth since the 2017 season.

The baseball Hawks opened this past week with a 3-1 win in Class 1A district semifinals play Tuesday, July 13 over Wapsie Valley, a team Kee had lost to by a 12-3 count on the road June 22. That semifinals triumph advanced the Hawks to the Class 1A District 4 championship game Saturday, July 17, a game in which Kee avenged a 5-0 road loss from June 24 with a 4-2 victory over fellow Upper Iowa Conference (UIC) season champion South Winneshiek to clinch Hawk baseball’s first district tournament championship in four seasons and earn advancement to the Class 1A Substate 2 championship game.

The Hawks’ district championship week improved their season record to 32-9 overall, including a 16-2 mark in UIC play that tied the Hawks with South Winneshiek for this season’s UIC title. That first substate qualification for the Hawks in four seasons will have them playing in the Class 1A Substate 2 championship game Tuesday, July 20 at 7 p.m. at Charles City High School against Northwood-Kensett, a team with just a 14-14 season record but also with enough power to blast past Class 1A top-rated Mason City Newman for an 8-3 upset victory in their District 3 championship match-up this past Saturday. The Hawks had defeated Northwood-Kensett by a 6-0 result in their own Shooky Fink Tournament at the end of May earlier this season.

The winner of Tuesday’s Substate 2 championship game will earn qualification for this year’s Class 1A State Tournament, which will begin Monday, July 26 at Merchants Park at Carroll. In addition to Newman not having an opportunity to prove its high ranking at this season’s grand finale State Tournament, three other top-10 rated Class 1A clubs who are also traditional small school baseball powers were also eliminated from any further postseason advancement in this past Saturday’s district championship round. Second-rated North Linn was eliminated by unrated Maquoketa Valley with a 1-0 loss, and sixth-rated and defending Class 1A State Champion Don Bosco was also ousted by a 7-3 loss to unrated Alburnett.

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