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The Raiderettes ended their season much in the same fashion as they began their season. In the rain.
Rain fell Thursday night before the conolation games were played, but that didn’t discourage the Mount Ayr girls.
The biggest story of the night was East Marshall battling against Mount Ayr, a rematch of the first round game at the state tournament 25 years ago.
East Marshall was the team that defeated the Raiderettes under the helm of coach Jary Hoskey, who is still coaching the team today.
The Mustangs started off early, scoring three runs, which gained momentum after a controversial bunt play in which the umpire ruled te Mustang runner safe at first.
It wasn’t until the fourth that Mount Ayr was able to score any runs, with two put on the board.
The runs came off a Sam Stewart bat into right field, scoring two RBI before being tagged out at third in an attempt for a triple.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Mustangs increased their lead by one off a solo home run off the bat of Madison Farrington.
The Raiderettes decided to answer back in the top of the sixth after Rachel Sobotka hit a double followed by a double from Halsie Barnes, which drove in Sobotka to make the score 4-3.
While it looked like an energetic East Marshall team would take third place with just three strikeouts needed, Addy Reynolds stepped up to the plate and hit a textbook home run over center field to tie the game at four.
“I just knew I needed to hit the ball,” said Reynolds. “I had struggled at my second and third at-bat and I just knew I needed to get out of my head and hit the ball. It was a big hit, so much emotion and I wanted that for Caroline since it was her last game. It was a really good win.”
The Raiderettes first out came before Alexa Anderson, who was also celebrating a birthday, got “the best birthday gift she could ask for” in the form of a home run to take the lead.
“I just wanted to hit, that’s all I wanted. Addy had an amazing hit. All I wanted was a hit, I just wanted contact,” said Anderson. “It’s amazing, I love it. It’s been 25 years, it feels great.”
Anderson’s home run proved the difference as McAlexander battled out of the seventh to take third place, the best finish in Mount Ayr Softball history.
“I got thrown out at third base three times tonight,” said coach Bret Ruggles. “I kept telling the girls the only way we could win this game tonight was to keep punching them. When you’re down 3-0, it’s hard to tell girls that. We talked about bunting Reynolds in the sixth, and I went away from that and man she destroyed that softball, and then Alexa, it’s her birthday today. You come up here and don’t expect home runs and when you get them like this it’s amazing.”
Caroline McAlexander, the Raiderettes only senior this year played her last game in a Raiderette uniform after leading the Raiderettes to the best finish in school history.
“There’s everything going on. There’s sadness because it’s my last game, there’s excitement because we won and I’m just so proud of my team right now,” said McAlexander. “It has been exciting, I’ve been more proud of my team than I ever have, this State experience has been a whirlwind, but it has been absolutely amazing and I couldn’t be happier with how it ended.”
McAlexander’s mom, Sarah, is a staple at every game and usually comes with goodies such as gummies. After the game Sarah couldn’t be happier for her daughter.
“It’s freaking awesome,” said McAlexander. “She has worked so hard, all these girls have and to finish out this way it is the best feeling ever.”
This will be the final game for McAlexander as well as co-coaches Bret and Brandie Ruggles, who have decided to step away from the program after this year. Earlier in the season, Bret Ruggles, stated their goal was to get the program on it’s feet and in a good position. Now that it is there, they are handing over the reigns and will go be parents to their three children. Brandie Ruggles, who played on the team 25 years ago, was excited for the win.
“I was in tears at the last at-bat. I didn’t really watch anything, because I knew how the game was going to end,” said coach Brandie Ruggles. “When Caroline went out there and was like I got this, and I was like oh my gosh we are going to win this and it’s even more special because East Marshall is who beat us in ‘94. It’s extremely hard [to step away], I gained 21 daughters this season and they have a special place, but my kids, my youngest one I haven’t been around for the last four years and he really needs me around and I’m going to be the mom now because my daughter is going to be there in a few years so I told them I will still be there, they will just miss out on all the Brandie moments in the dugout.”
The 2019 Raiderette softball team has cemented their place in Mount Ayr history and will look to repeat a trip the Fort Dodge next season, returning all but one.