A simple approach at the plate led to a game-winning home run by Franie Burnett on Friday night.
The senior shortstop homered in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the 11th-ranked Ankeny Centennial softball team a 6-5 victory over No. 6 Valley and a sweep of the CIML doubleheader. The host Jaguars also won the first game, 6-0.
“I was just looking for a pitch around the zone to get the bat on the ball,” said Burnett. “My goal was to find any way on (base) that I could.”
Burnett’s third home run of the season allowed Centennial to improve its record to 11-3. Valley, the defending Class 5A state champion, dropped to 9-3.
“She just found a way to put the bat on the ball, and the ball went over the fence,” said Centennial coach Brett Delaney. “I was just hoping for a hit to get a rally going, but she came through with a home run.”
The Jaguars went 5-3 for the week while playing four ranked opponents.
“I don’t think tonight showed what we were capable of,” Burnett said. “The start of the week we split with Johnston–one of the best teams in the state–and I think we opened a lot of eyes with one of those wins. Throughout this week we continued to compete against good teams and tonight was just the cherry on top with a sweep against Valley. It was a very good day for the program. It was a total team effort.”
Burnett and Kayla Smalley each had two RBIs in the win. Smalley, Mackenzie James and Kennedee Jones each went 2-for-3.
Jones hit a home run in the sixth inning, her first of the year, to tie the game at 5-5.
“Valley’s a great outfit, but our girls came to the field ready to play after a tough loss (Thursday at Carlisle) and found a way to get two wins tonight,” Delaney said. “They have a never-say-die attitude.”
Madi Huisman (7-1) was the winning pitcher in both games. She tossed the final inning of the nightcap after throwing a five-hit shutout in the opener, when she walked four and had four strikeouts.
“Madi didn’t have her best stuff (Thursday), but we challenged her tonight and she rose to the occasion,” Delaney said. “She threw really well.”
Ella Schulz went 3-for-4 with a double and four RBIs in the first game. Taylor Runchey went 2-for-2, while Sydney Morris and Anna Christiansen each drove in a run.
The Tigers intentionally walked Runchey in the sixth inning to load the bases for Schulz, who followed with a two-run single to make it 6-0.
“That was an interesting tactic,” Delaney said.
Schulz is now batting .531 with 10 doubles and 24 RBIs.
“The key to my success has been not overdoing it and keeping things simple. I’ve also been patient at the plate waiting for my pitch,” Schulz said. “I was a little surprised (that Valley walked Runchey) because it loaded the bases, but I had full confidence in Taylor if they would’ve pitched to her. She would’ve scored the runs.”
Centennial will host a doubleheader against Urbandale (6-7) on Monday.