Remsen St. Mary’s softball prepares to face Southeast Warren

Monday, July 18, 2022
(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil) The Remsen St. Mary’s softball team comes together to celebrate the final out of their regional final victory. The Hawks open state tournament play on Tuesday against Southeast Warren.

No. 4 Remsen St. Mary’s (27-2) vs. No. 5 Southeast Warren (23-4), 5:30 p.m., Tuesday

Remsen St. Mary’s and Southeast Warren are a pair of returning teams to the Class 1A state tournament field. Those two will square off in the state quarterfinal round on Tuesday.

“They’ll be a formidable opponent,” RSM Head Coach Monte Harpenau said. “They’ve been there and they have quite a few of the girls back from last year.”

Harpenau said he hopes the experience of playing at the Harlan & Hazel Rogers Sports Complex last year, as well as in a regular season tournament earlier this season, will help against another experienced team.

“We gave up quite a few runs early in that first round game last year and I think some of it was jitters, the atmosphere, something we’ve never seen,” Harpenau said. “They’ve seen it. They’ve played now five games down at Harlan Rogers between last year and this year. I think that’s going to be a huge help for us to know that we’re used to the fields a little bit by now and maybe relax a little bit to start the game.”

Southeast Warren is located just southeast of the Des Moines metro area in Warren County. The Warhawks join the county’s four other teams in making the state tournament, joining Indianola (4A), Norwalk (4A), Carlisle (4A) and Martensdale-St. Marys (1A). They are also one of three teams from the Pride of Iowa Conference to make state, joining Martensdale-St. Marys and 2A qualifier Mount Ayr.

“I know they play good competition because they have four teams in their conference that are ranked,” Harpenau said. “Wayne didn’t make it to state, but we played them last year and we know how good they are.”

Southeast Warren took third place in last year’s state tournament. As the No. 4 seed, they beat Sigourney in the quarterfinal round before falling to Newell-Fonda in the semifinals. In the third place game, the Warhawks beat Wayne by a 4-0 score. Wayne was RSM’s quarterfinal round opponent last year and beat the Hawks 7-2.

Powerful bats

The Warhawks will feature a lineup which has some pop in their bats. They have hit 31 home runs this season, the second most in Class 1A behind their Pride of Iowa Conference foe Wayne who fell a game short of returning to state after losing to Martensdale-St. Marys in the regional final.

Seven different players have hit home runs for the Warhawks with the top home run sluggers being Alivia Ruble (9), Breanna Nolte (8), and Emma King (6).

“They have 31 home runs, so that’s quite a few home runs for a 1A team,” Harpenau said. “We gave up a couple home runs this year, but Marina usually keeps the ball down and she doesn’t give up a lot of home runs.”

Along with their home run hitting abilities, they also hit for pretty good average with a .393 team batting average. Six batters in their lineup are hitting over .400 for the season including Kaylee Tigner who is batting .492 which is highest on the team.

Remsen St. Mary’s hasn’t hit for much power this season. Halle Galles has a pair of home runs and Carmindee Ricke has the team’s other round-tripper this season. The Hawks are hitting .352 as a team.

Leadoff slapper Claire Schroeder leads the Hawks with a .573 batting average which is fifth best in Class 1A. All 63 of her hits have been singles. Mya Bunkers adds a .435 batting average while Jacie Homan, Octavia Galles and Halle Galles are all hitting .370 or better.

Harpenau said getting on base and putting pressure on will be important. The Hawks have 145 stolen bases on the season compared to 71 for the Warhawks.

“Obviously with Claire and Mya, and we have other girls who can steal bases too, but those two the last couple years, Claire is top five in the state in stolen bases,” Harpenau said. “That is a big part of what we do and we’ve been working real hard on the small game. Down there, that’s something you have to execute because you’re facing a good pitcher every night. You can’t count on moving runners by getting base hits all the time. I know we don’t strike out a ton, but we still need to execute the small ball down there against that good of competition.”

Battle of the pitchers

Both teams bring back pitchers with state tournament experience. Ruble threw all of Southeast Warren’s innings at state last year and the junior has put up solid numbers again this season. She sports an 18-2 record while striking out 119 in 93 innings pitched. She is sporting a 1.28 ERA.

Harpenau said he watched her pitch at the state tournament last year.

“I did see them play their consolation game last year,” Harpenau said. “She’s a formidable pitcher. She locates. Not something that we haven’t seen between Jadyn Case and Rylee Schnepf around here. We should be ready for that.”

Marina Cronin is set to step into the circle for the Hawks. She is sitting right near one strikeout per inning pitched this season with 150 Ks in 149 2/3 innings thrown. She has a 22-2 record and an ERA of 1.22.

Along with the pitching, the defenses are likely to play a role. The teams have similar fielding percentages with the Warhawks at .962 and the Hawks at .958.

The rest of the field

Earning the top seed in the bracket is North Linn, the defending state champs from 2A last year. The No. 2 seed is Newell-Fonda, the defending state champs from 1A a season ago. Lisbon, last year’s 1A runner-up team, earns the No. 3 seed. Twin Cedars is the No. 6 seed and is making their first trip to state since 1978. No. 7 seed Martensdale-St. Marys is making their 10th state tournament appearance with all of those coming in the last 15 years. No. 8 seed Mason City Newman Catholic rounds out the 1A field with their fifth state appearance with two of those coming in the last three seasons.

While Harpenau has been mostly focused on the team’s first opponent, he said this year’s field includes plenty of good teams.

“We’ve got two defending state champs out of the eight teams,” Harpenau said. “It’s going to be fun. A lot of good teams. We’re really looking forward to the competition and see what happens.”

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