MUSCATINE, Iowa–In an exciting twist to an unusual season, the Muskies girls’ softball team came from behind to win a double header against Davenport North, clenching the Mississippi Athletic Conference title July 13. Their title proved historic, as they have not advanced so far in tournament play since 2013.
Muscatine Softball Head Coach Steve Hopkins found the day game particularly exciting, as the girls racked up an impressive number of runs to tie the game and go on to win it in extra innings, allowing them to advance to the night game and beat Davenport and claim the MAC title. He reported: “In the first game, we were down 11 – 3 going into the bottom of the seventh inning. We scored eight runs to take the game into extra innings. We eventually won the game in the 10th inning. Malia Cook hit a three run home run in the bottom of the seventh to help tie the game.” By clenching the title, the team ended a seven year drought of post season play.
Winning their conference title with a surprise comeback seems fitting for a season that has proved unusual because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “This season has been both fun and challenging,” stated Hopkins: “The girls work hard and are fun to be around. It has also been challenging due to the virus and all of the restrictions we have to follow at practice and games.” Hopkins elaborated that to limit contact between players and reduce chances for transmission, the team has not used the dugout during practice, social distanced whenever possible, including refraining from high fives and hand shakes, and taking additional buses to away games to put more distance between players. Game balls get disinfected regularly, including after every foul ball.
Despite the added challenges COVID-19 has presented the Muskies, Hopkins believes his team has promising prospects for progressing farther towards their goal of going to the state tournament. “I feel good about our chances,” he said: “We are playing good softball right now. The team is working hard and they believe in each other. The post season will be a lot of fun.”
The Muskies played their next game against Linn-Mar, a non-conference team, at 7 p.m. July 18 at Kent Stein Park, after this newspaper went to press. Should they have proven victorious, they will have advanced to play for the regional championship July 21.