Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Five years ago Jeff Koenig took over a City High softball program mired in the Mississippi Valley Conference cellar.
In the late stages of what ended as a seven-win season the always upbeat Koenig made a pledge to the young players on his first City High squad.
“My eighth-grade year I think we won seven games but Coach would always tell us to keep going because he promised good times were coming and we were going to go far,” City High senior outfielder Alexa Fredericks explained.
Fredericks and her fellow seniors have helped make Koenig promise seem prophetic.
Four years removed from a seven-win season City High won its first MVC title since 1998 on Wednesday, securing the Mississippi Division crown with a doubleheader sweep of Dubuque Wahlert (18-19) in Iowa City.
Class 5A fifth-ranked City High won the opener 4-0 to lock up the division title and put the finishing touches on a fitting senior night with a 13-1 three-inning win in the opener.
“Playing softball 40 games a year and losing most of those games is hard but coach kept saying good times were coming I had faith in him and here we are now,” Fredericks said. “It means a lot to me. I’m glad I stuck with it.”
City High won 19 games combined in Koenig’s first two seasons.
After 20 wins in 2017 the breakthrough for the Little Hawks came last season with a state tournament appearance.
This year City High has been even better.
City High improved to 30-7 on the season, a school record for wins in a 40-game season.
“It was really hard to believe five years ago we could do this,” City High senior centerfielder Brianna Bentler said. “Last year we really started believing that this moment could actually happen and we could come together and win a conference championship.”
City High was fourth in the Valley Division a year ago finishing 16-10 in conference play.
With the sweep on Wednesday the Little Hawks moved to 27-3 in MVC play to pull away from Cedar Rapids Prairie (19-7) in the standings and win the first conference crown since the last of three consecutive titles in 1998.
“It’s been since 1998, that is crazy to think about,” Bentler said. “It’s really cool to make history for your school and for this team and it’s great to put City High on the board like that with a conference championship.”
City High used a four-hit shutout from Ayana Lindsey to clinch the Mississippi Division title with a 4-0 win in the opener.
Lindsey struck out six and walked one in game one while improving to 16-3 on the season.
Carey Koenig gave City High an early lead with a solo home run in the first inning and had an RBI double in a two-run Little Hawk fourth.
“The first inning Carey got out one out of here and got a one-run lead and Ayana was on tonight so we thought one run might hold up,” Koenig said. “We were able to add a few more.”
City High pounded out 12 hits in a 13-1 three-inning win in the nightcap.
Keli Potter and Lindsey each homered and Koenig was 3-for-3 with two doubles and three RBI but the night belonged to the four City High seniors.
“These seniors came in and they bought in since day one, they’ve done everything the coaching staff has asked them to do, they come out every night and compete and they’ve seen the results on the field,” Koenig said. “They were kind of the ones that had to persevere.”
Seniors Fredericks and Jayden Young each had RBI singles during a nine-run City High third inning that ended the game.
“These four seniors have been huge for us with buying in, staying positive and helping us,” Koenig said. “I put them in positions as eighth graders that they had never played. You’ve seen that group grow.
Dubuque Wahlert 000 000 0 – 0 4 1
City High 100 210 x – 4 6 2
W – Ayana Lindsey L – Anna Chapman
2B – ICH: Carey Koenig, Ella Cook, Keli Potter
HR – ICH: Carey Koenig
Dubuque Wahlert 100 – 1 4 3
City High 319 – 13 12 2
W – Ella Cook L – Lilly Roth
2B – ICH: Carey Koenig (2)
HR – ICH: Keli Potter, Ayana Lindsey
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