Savages look to snag win at state

Sigourney catcher Kaylee Weber snares a pitch from behind the plate during high school softball action earlier this season. The seventh-ranked, fifth-seeded Savages open the Class 1A state softball tournament Monday morning against Southeast Warren at Iowa Central Field within the Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge.

It's been a while, but the Sigourney Savages are heading back to Fort Dodge for the Iowa High School state softball tournament.

The Savages qualified for state after taking down Belle Plaine 6-3 in the 1A, Region 5 championship on Monday, making it their first state tournament appearance since 2017.

Sigourney will face the Southeast Warren Warhawks in the first round of the Iowa High School state softball tournament on Monday at Iowa Central Field at 11:30 a.m.

"I'm really excited. I went there (the state softball tournament) in my eighth-grade year and I would have done anything to get back there this year," Sigourney senior catcher Kaylee Weber said.

Through the first three games of the postseason, Sigourney has been led by its underclassmen. Sophomore Courtney Hemsley scored the most runs for the Savages throughout the season and continued her consistency at the plate during Sigourney's run to make it to state. Hemsley had three hits and two RBI in Sigourney's qualifying run against English Valleys, North Mahaska and Belle Plaine. 

Freshman Carly Goodwin has been a steady force for Sigourney all season long in the batter's box and in the circle. Out of all the players on Sigourney with at least 80 at-bats this season, Goodwin leads the team heading into Fort Dodge with a .491 batting average. But it's not just her hitting that's led Sigourney back to the state tournament.

Goodwin has led the Savages through the postseason with little interference in the circle. Over her 24 innings pitched through the Savages' three postseason games, Goodwin put up 35 strikeouts, allowed six hits and gave up seven walks. And it's not just the latest success for Goodwin that gives the Savages confidence when they head to Fort Dodge. She's been doing this all season long.

The sophomore heads to Fort Dodge with a 0.49 ERA, the third-lowest in 1A this season, 258 strikeouts, 10 earned-runs and a 21-3 record. Goodwin heads to the state tournament with nine doubles at the plate, while having just 10 earned runs on her ledger. Her last 47 innings, including the three postseason games leading up to Fort Dodge, have been lights out with 85 punch-outs, 11 hits and 12 walks.

"We felt pretty confident going into the postseason. We faced every single team we played in the tournament during the regular season," Goodwin said. "It proves that, if we keep our heads on straight, we can go as far as we want to go."

Outside of the underclassmen, Weber also came up big over the Savages' last three postseason contests, collecting three hits and two RBI just like Hemsley. Weber has rolled over her regular season success where she led the team in hits and RBIs.

So what's there to know about the Savages' opponent? For starters, they don't lose much. The Southeast Warren Warhawks come to Fort Dodge 28-2 on the season, their best record since going 34-5 in their 2006-07 campaign. Their two losses both came by one run to Wayne and Martensdale-St Marys. 

They also know how to score, thanks to a lineup that boasts six batters with at least 80 at-bats this season with the lowest average in that group being .349. Southeast Warren has averaged 10.5 runs in their 28 wins.

Both teams are assured of two games at the state tournament with the winner assuring themselves a third game on Friday. Either North Butler or Newell-Fonda will face Sigourney in their second game, which will be either on Tuesday morning to wrap up the season in the consolation round should the Savages lose or on Wednesday in the Class 1A state semifinals should the Savages win on Monday.

Courier senior sports writer Scott Jackson contributed to this story.

Matt Belinson can be reached at mbelinson@ottumwacourier.com.

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