The new Iowa Women's Softball League has reached all the way into Kentucky for its 40th player.
Kelsey Aikey, a Waverly-Shell Rock graduate who is currently pitching for Western Kentucky University, has joined the program that will begin this summer in Cedar Rapids.
Aikey pitched for Cedar Falls High School for four years before transferring to Waverly-Shell Rock as a senior in 2016, when she went 19-3 with a sparkling 0.87 earned run average. Aikey struck out 261 batters in 161 innings that season and also hit .381 with 10 home runs and 36 RBIs.
Aikey currently has a 4-3 record and 3.37 ERA as a freshman at Western Kentucky, an NCAA Division I school that competes in Conference USA.
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The Iowa Women's Softball League has been formed by the Metro Sports Report as the only summer collegiate fast-pitch softball league in Iowa. The goal is to have four teams with 12 or 13 players apiece, so we're getting close with 40 players.
All told, 19 different colleges have at least one player in the league. The list includes Kirkwood, UNI, Coe, Mount Mercy, Luther, Wartburg, Waldorf, Illinois State, Indian Hills, Loras, South Dakota State, Upper Iowa, DMACC, Western Illinois, Southeastern Community College, Indiana State, Ellsworth, Webster and Western Kentucky.
Kirkwood has the most players in the program with eight. There are five players from UNI and four from Coe.
In addition, the 40 players hail from 31 different high schools. Solon leads the way with four former Spartans in the program and Kennedy has three graduates in the league.
Kirkwood infielder Miranda Kaste has been forced to withdraw from the league as she continues to recover from a broken leg. Kaste is not playing for the Eagles this season and plans to spend the summer on her rehab work as she prepares for a comeback.
The season will consist of 10 doubleheaders on Sunday afternoons, beginning on Sunday, May 28 and running through Sunday, July 30. All of the games will be played at Kirkwood Community College and Coe College in Cedar Rapids, beginning at 2 p.m. each day.
Here are the 40 players who have joined so far:
1. Erin Kuba, Indian Hills (CR Jefferson)
2. Peyton Baskerville, Mount Mercy (CR Kennedy)
3. Tianna Drahn, Northern Iowa (CR Kennedy)
4. Lexi Kinnaird, Kirkwood (Clear Creek Amana)
5. Maddy Ryan, Coe (Linn-Mar)
6. Mallory McArtor, Coe (Mid-Prairie)
7. Taylor Nearad, Kirkwood (Solon)
8. Bria Lenten, Loras (CR Washington)
9. Tawny Menster, Mount Mercy (Anamosa)
10. Maddie Hansen, Kirkwood (CR Jefferson)
11. Megan Bonnett, Luther (IC Regina)
12. Morgan Frost, Kirkwood (Don Bosco)
13. Taylor Kurtz, Waldorf (Mid-Prairie)
14. Haley Jones, Coe (Waterloo West)
15. Morgan Goedken, Wartburg (IC Regina)
16. Alyssa Wiebel, Illinois State (Benton)
17. Monika Bevans, Kirkwood (Solon)
18. Ali Herdliska, South Dakota State (Solon)
19. Erin Drahozal, Upper Iowa (Xavier)
20. Emily Ira, Western Illinois (Solon)
21. Sydney Robertson, DMACC (Vinton-Shellsburg)
22. Lexi Ferrari, Kirkwood (Alleman Catholic)
23. DoniRae Mayhew, Kirkwood (Bettendorf)
24. Morgan Christner, Illinois State (New London)
25. Paige Timmerman, Luther (CR Kennedy)
26. Megan Kublik, Kirkwood (Wilton)
27. Morgan Smith, Southeastern CC (Davenport North)
28. Gabi Carter, Indiana State (Kirkwood/CR Prairie)
29. Taylor Bell, Waldorf (Madrid)
30. Brittney Roby, UNI (DMACC/Twin Cedars)
31. Brooke Craig, UNI (Waterloo Columbus)
32. Abbie Young, Ellsworth (AGWSR)
33. Hannah Onken, Wartburg (Greene County)
34. Kasiah Ehresman, Coe (Lynnville-Sully)
35. Bradi Yost, Ellsworth (Aplington-Parkersburg)
36. Jaclyn Spencer, UNI (Waterloo West)
37. Chelsea Thornley, Webster University (Clinton, Mo.)
38. Adara Opiola, UNI (Iowa City West)
39. Marissa Promes, Indian Hills (Greene County)
40. Kelsey Aikey, Western Kentucky (Waverly-Shell Rock)
Anyone interested in joining the league is strongly encouraged to register now and reserve a spot, even if they have not finalized their plans for this summer. The $100 player fee will be refunded if they are unable to play, with no questions asked.
The entire registration process can be handled on-line. Simply click on the link to the registration form that appears with this story.
The Metro Sports Report hopes all players will attend all the games, but the company will certainly understand if a player needs to miss a few games due to a job commitment, family function, vacation or any other reason.
The league will use a continuous batting order with free defensive substitution, to make sure the playing time is as equal as possible for everyone.
Scholarships are available. All anyone has to do is ask.
The four gold medal sponsors for the Iowa Women's Softball League are Ironside Apparel, Construction Materials, Emil's Hideaway restaurant and Hawkeye Convenience Stores. Play It Again Sports of Cedar Rapids is a silver medal sponsor.
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