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Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Metro Sports Report

Eagles headed to JUCO World Series

Todd Rima rolled the dice a little bit when he left a strong program at NIACC six years ago to become the new head coach at Kirkwood.

It paid off handsomely on Sunday.

The Eagles spanked Southeast Community College of Nebraska, 10-1, to win the North Plains district baseball title and earn the school's first trip to the NJCAA Division II World Series since 1999.

Kirkwood (42-15-1) will be one of only 10 teams at the national tournament in Enid, Okla., from May 26 to June 2.

Rima spent 11 years at NIACC, a junior college in Mason City that competes in the same conference with Kirkwood. He thought Kirkwood had more resources than NIACC to compete at a national level on a regular basis and moved his young family to Cedar Rapids to embrace the job.

Kirkwood made four trips to the World Series in the 1990's under Coach John Lewis and finished second on two of those trips, but the program had slipped a little when Rima arrived.

Now the Eagles are back, joining the Kirkwood basketball teams, softball team, men's golf squad and volleyball team as national powers.

"This athletic department deserves the baseball program to go back to the World Series," Rima said after getting a bucket of ice water dumped on his head and hugging his family. "This community deserves it.

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Eagles in showdown for World Series

The Kirkwood Eagles made four trips to the junior college World Series in the 1990's, but it's been 19 long years since they made their last appearance in the national tournament.

Now it's do-or-die time for the Eagles.

Kirkwood split the first two games of the North Plains district tournament with Southeast Community College on Saturday and now they'll play the decisive third game on Sunday.

The showdown in the best-of-3 series is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. at the Kirkwood field.

The Eagles cruised in the first game, 10-1, behind a strong outing by Peyton Long, but Southeast took the nightcap, 14-9, when Kirkwood pitchers walked 12 batters and hit two others.

Now it's 12th-ranked Kirkwood (41-15) against unranked Southeast of Lincoln, Neb. (42-14) for a trip to the NJCAA Division II national tournament in Enid, Okla., May 26-June 2.

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KCC softball team bumped from nationals

CLINTON, Miss. - The Kirkwood softball lost two tight games at the NJCAA Division II national championships Thursday and was eliminated from the tournament with a 1-2 record.

The Eagles squandered golden scoring opportunities in both contests and finished the season with a 49-13 record.

Kirkwood, seeded No. 5 in the 16-team tournament, lost to No. 4 seed Phoenix 4-2 in the winners bracket quarterfinals Thursday afternoon at Traceway Park in Mississippi. The Eagles left 11 runners on base against Phoenix and had runners at first, second and third in the bottom of the seventh when their final batter popped up to third.

Kirkwood left eight runners on base against Madison, the No. 11 seed, and had the bases loaded again in the seventh inning when their final batter popped up to the shortstop in a 5-4 setback.

DoniRae Mayhew (20-4) took the loss in Game 1 and Natalie Halvorson (25-9) absorbed the loss in Game 2.

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Eagles stomp Kankakee at JUCO nationals

CLINTON, Miss. - Cool, calm and relaxed.

That's how Kirkwood softball coach Joe Yegge described his team at the NJCAA Division II national tournament Wednesday.

The Eagles scored nine runs in the bottom of the first inning and blasted Kankakee, 17-0, in five innings in the opening round of the  World Series at Traceway Park.

Monika Bevans belted a grand slam in the first inning, DoniRae Mayhew socked a solo homer in the fourth inning and Lauren Kuch went 4-for-4 with two RBIs to pace the 18-hit attack.

Natalie Halvorson (26-8) pitched a one-hitter with five strikeouts with another impressive showing. Halvorson tossed a perfect game in  the district finals last week against Nebraska Central.

Kirkwood (49-11) will face Phoenix (50-8) in the winners bracket quarterfinals Thursday at 3:30 p.m.

The Eagles are making their fourth straight appearance at the World Series and sixth trip in 11 years under Yegge. He liked his club's  attitude on the big stage Wednesday.

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IWSL is bigger & better for Year 2

The Iowa Women's Softball League has grown tremendously in just a single year. And there's no end in sight.

The rosters, schedules and coaching staff were announced today with the season opener just 19 days away on June 3.

There are 78 players in the league, compared to 52 on Opening Day a year ago, an increase of exactly 50 percent.

There are now two divisions in the IWSL instead of only one, with the Central Division in Indianola joining the Eastern Division in Cedar Rapids.

There are now five teams instead of four. And there's a general buzz in college softball about the only summer league in Iowa.

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