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Tuesday, July 28, 2015
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor
jim.ecker@metrosportsreport.com
319-390-4236

Jefferson High School - Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Erin Kuba wins Metro Spotlight Award

Erin Kuba of Cedar Rapids Jefferson is the winner of the Metro Spotlight Award for high school girls this week, the Metro Sports Report announced Sunday night.

Kuba, a junior, was a key member of the Jefferson softball team that compiled a 36-9 record this season and placed fourth at the Class 5A state tournament in Fort Dodge last week.

Kuba hit .433 with two home runs and 27 RBIs for the J-Hawks this season. She also did an excellent job on defense at third base with her glove and arm.

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J-Hawks place 4th at state softball

Cedar Rapids Jefferson softball coach Brian Erbe is rooting for all the other teams in the Mississippi Valley Conference to get better and better.

That may sound odd, but Erbe thinks stiffer competition from MVC teams would help the J-Hawks have a better chance of winning another state title in the years to come.

Jefferson lost to West Des Moines Valley, 6-5, in a consolation game at the state tournament Friday afternoon in Fort Dodge to finish fourth in the tournament after placing seventh in 2014 and fifth in 2013.

The third-ranked J-Hawks made a strong showing in Fort Dodge. They beat Linn-Mar, 6-3, in the opening round, then faced two of the best teams in the state and dropped one-run games on consecutive days.

Jefferson lost to second-ranked Johnston Thursday, 2-1, then lost to top-ranked West Des Moines Valley by a single tally Friday. The J-Hawks came close to beating a pair of elite teams, but fell a tad short both times.

Waukee played Johnston in the championship game Friday night in a battle of teams from the Central Iowa Metropolitan League, making this the 13th straight year a CIML team will win a state crown.

This year's state tournament featured No. 1 West Des Moines Valley, No. 2 Johnston, No. 5 Waukee, Urbandale and Ankeny from the CIML, which is loaded with outstanding clubs. Erbe feels they push each other to improve.

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No. 3 J-Hawks nipped by No. 2 Johnston

FORT DODGE - Erin Kuba dreamed about big situations like this when she was growing up in Palo across the street from the city ballpark.

State softball tournament, playing the defending champions, 1-0 ballgame, runners on second and third, two outs, time running out. A key base hit and her team probably wins the game.

"Yeah, I like being in that situation," she said Thursday evening.

Unfortunately, the dream did not have a happy ending. Kuba popped up, the inning ended and her team ended up losing by one run instead of winning by a run.

The third-ranked Jefferson J-Hawks were trimmed by second-ranked Johnston, 2-1, in the semifinals of the Class 5A state tournament Thursday at Harlan Rogers Park in a snappy 80-minute contest.

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Hansen hopes to connect for J-Hawks

Cedar Rapids Jefferson senior Maddie Hansen would like to get a few good pitches to hit in the Class 5A state softball tournament Thursday evening in Fort Dodge.

That's not too much to ask, but the all-state catcher did not get much a chance in the opening round Monday when the Linn-Mar Lions gave her four straight intentional walks in a 6-3 Jefferson victory.

The third-ranked J-Hawks (36-7) face second-ranked Johnston (34-4) in the semifinals at 5 p.m. Thursday at Harlan Rogers Park and Hansen is anxious to swing the bat again.

Hansen is one of the most feared hitters in the state with a .504 batting average, 11 home runs and 46 RBIs. Linn-Mar walked her six times in a Mississippi Valley Conference doubleheader this year, then walked her four more times at the state tournament.

"It puts me on base for Erin (Kuba) behind me and Kennedy Dighton behind me, and so I'll take a base," said Hansen. "If they want to put me on I'll go for it, because I know my teammates can do the job behind me.

"It doesn't really bother me any more."

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J-Hawks cherish win over Lions at state

FORT DODGE - Alyssa Olson has pitched better games during her all-state career with the Jefferson J-Hawks, but few have felt as sweet as this one did Monday afternoon.

Olson tossed a complete game as the third-ranked J-Hawks topped Linn-Mar, 6-3, in the opening round of the Class 5A state tournament at Harlan Rogers Park in Fort Dodge.

Olson and the J-Hawks lost in the opening round of the state tournament in 2013 and 2014, so this was the last chance for Olson and the rest of the Jefferson seniors to reach the semifinals.

"It feels great," she said. "We knew coming into this game that it wasn't going to be easy, by any means. We knew that Linn-Mar was going to put up a fight and we were going to put up a fight."

Olson has enjoyed lots of big wins, including a 7-0 masterpiece with 13 strikeouts against Muscatine in the regional finals two years ago as a sophomore. Monday's victory was really big, too.

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Olson, Ryan are foes now, teammates later

Alyssa Olson of Jefferson and Maddy Ryan of Linn-Mar will be teammates at Coe when they begin their college softball careers later this summer, but first they have some unfinished business to settle as high school players.

Olson and Ryan will pitch against each other Monday afternoon when Jefferson (35-7) faces Linn-Mar (25-17) in the opening round of the Class 5A state tournament in Fort Dodge.

First pitch is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

Ryan and the Lions nipped Olson and the J-Hawks, 3-2, when they pitched against each other in the first game of a Mississippi Valley Conference doubleheader at Linn-Mar on June 9.

Jefferson won the second game of that doubleheader, 14-4, and now the two Metro rivals will meet 150 miles away in Fort Dodge to settle the score for this season.

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Hannah Towns wins Metro Spotlight Award

Hannah Towns of Cedar Rapids Jefferson is the winner of the Metro Spotlight Award for high school girls this week, the Metro Sports Report announced Sunday night.

Towns, a senior, is a key member of the Jefferson softball team that will be playing in the Class 5A state tournament in Fort Dodge this week. The J-Hawks meet Linn-Mar in the opening round Monday at 3:30 p.m.

Jefferson is ranked third in Class 5A with a 35-7 record.

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IHSAA needs to fix 4A substates

When I'm the new king of the Iowa High School Athletic Association, the first thing we're going to do is fix the Class 4A substate baseball tournaments.

It's long overdue.

This business of awarding second-round byes has to end. And this business of spreading the substate tournaments over six days has to end as well to prevent teams from riding a stud pitcher all the way to the state tournament.

As it stands now, a No. 1 seed can win an opening-round game on Friday with its star pitcher, draw a second-round bye on Monday and come back with its star pitcher in the substate finals on Wednesday with plenty of rest.

Baseball is a team game and should showcase an entire pitching staff, not just one guy.

We also have to change the system so we don't put Cedar Rapids Prairie and Iowa City West, two of the best teams in our area, in the same substate. Both of those teams deserve a clean shot at making the state tournament, but that won't happen this year because they're likely to meet in the substate finals Wednesday night and one of them will be eliminated.

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No. 3 J-Hawks shocked by North Scott

Invaders from Pluto, unhappy with the United States for spying on their planet, kidnapped the Cedar Rapids Jefferson baseball team Friday night and took their spot on the field against North Scott.

It was not a pretty sight.

The third-ranked J-Hawks played one of their worst games of the season and were shocked by North Scott, 11-8, in the opening round of the Class 4A substate baseball tournament at Jefferson.

The imposter from Pluto who wore Spencer VanScoyoc's jersey was knocked out of the box in the second inning and charged with seven runs.

The imposters who played defense for Jefferson committed five errors.

There were six walks, three wild pitches, two passed balls and a balk.

Jefferson entered the game with a 29-8 record, favored to make the state tournament for the first time since 1998. North Scott arrived at the Jefferson field with a 17-20 record, including a 6-1 loss to the J-Hawks during the regular season.

"It's not very often a 6-seed beats a 1-seed, but we have one goal this year and it's to go to state. We're still alive," said North Scott Coach Brad Hanna.

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Hansen tops all-Metro softball team

Cedar Rapids Jefferson catcher Maddie Hansen has been named the Athlete of the Year on the All-Metro Softball Team, as selected by Metro coaches.

Hansen, a senior, is hitting .504 with 11 home runs and 46 RBIs to rank among the state leaders in all three departments. She plans to play next season at Kirkwood Community College.

Hansen has helped the third-ranked J-Hawks reach the Class 5A state tournament with a 35-7 record. Jefferson will face Linn-Mar in the opening round at 3:30 p.m. Monday in Fort Dodge.

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