Tuesday, January 17, 2017
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

UNI's Roby, Craig join softball league

The new Iowa Women's Softball League received a nice boost Monday when Brittney Roby and Brooke Craig from the successful University of Northern Iowa softball team joined the program.

A total of 31 college softball players have now joined the league, including eight players from NCAA Division I schools.

Roby has been an outstanding hitter at every rung of her softball  career. She began her prep career by batting .642 as an eighth grader  at Twin Cedars High School in Bussey and then hit .568, .655, .634 and .651 during the next four seasons.

Roby, an outfielder, collected 12 homers and 133 RBIs in high school and was named first team all-state for five straight years from 2010 through 2014.


Roby continued her lusty hitting in college at DMACC, where she hit .582 with 15 homers and 85 RBIs as a freshman in 2015 and followed by hitting .551 with 10 homers and 68 RBIs last season as a sophomore.

Roby was named a first team NJCAA All-American during both of her  campaigns at DMACC. Remarkably, she struck out only one time in 2016 and struck out only two times in 2015.

Roby is currently a junior at UNI with two more years of eligibility.


Johnson sparks No. 10 Saints by City High

Max Johnson checked out of Friday's game against Iowa City High with a  little more than two minutes remaining and got an affectionate head  rub from Xavier Coach Ryan Luehrsmann.

Luehrsmann and the Saints have been looking for a spark off the bench  all season and the 6-foot-3, 230-pound senior delivered with the best  game of his career.

Johnson scored 12 points and snared seven rebounds as the Class 3A  10th-ranked Saints defeated Iowa City High, 57-41, in a Mississippi Valley Conference game at Ron Thillen Gymnasium.

Johnson had scored 12 points all season before matching it in a single  night against the Little Hawks.

"I just want to be someone who can come in and give the team a lot of  energy and make the hustle plays and keep things going, not be a  hindrance," he said.

Johnson was a deep reserve for the Saints when they won the Class 3A  state title last season. He's moved up this year and could be a key guy off the bench as the Saints (3-6) look to get on a roll after a  rough start to the campaign.

"I'm really proud of Max Johnson," said Luehrsmann. "He gave us great  minutes off the bench and great energy.


No. 14 Eagles soar by Marshalltown

If you loved the way the Kirkwood Eagles played last season on their way to the national title, you had to enjoy what you saw at Johnson  Hall Wednesday night.

Kirkwood Coach Bryan Petersen certainly did.

The 14th-ranked Eagles played a terrific first half and rolled by Marshalltown, 100-80, in a non-conference affair.

Kirkwood (12-3) jumped to a quick 14-0 lead in the first four minutes and led 54-31 at halftime with a near-flawless performance. The score  was 30-9 midway through the first half.

"Probably the best basketball we've played all year," said Petersen.

The Eagles trimmed Marshalltown on the road, 78-75, in November, but the rematch was a blowout from start to finish.

Kirkwood opened 27-point leads in both halves and Marshalltown (13-6) never got closer than 20 points in the last 25 minutes of the game.

Marshalltown outscored the Eagles 49-46 in the second half, but most of that came in the latter stages of the game.


Taylor Bell joins MSR softball league

Taylor Bell loves softball so much that she's willing to drive four hours every Sunday this summer to play in a collegiate league in Cedar  Rapids.

Bell, who lives 120 miles away in Madrid, has become the 29th player to join the new Iowa Women's Softball League. She'll have a two-hour drive each way to Cedar Rapids, but she's looking forward to the games.

Bell plans to redshirt this season as a fourth-year senior at Waldorf University in Forest City and then finish her collegiate career at Waldorf in 2018.

She thinks playing in the Iowa Women's Softball League against top-flight competition will help prepare her for her final year in college. Taylor Kurtz, one of her teammates at Waldorf who is from Mid-Prairie, told her about the league and encouraged her to get  involved.


"It sounds like fun and a good way to get ready for my final year at Waldorf," she said.

Bell began her college career at DMACC in 2014, when the Bears finished third at the junior college World Series. She transferred to Waldorf after her freshman year at DMACC and hit .252 last season.

Bell, a middle infielder and center fielder, was a five-year starter at Madrid High School and hit .437 as a senior in 2013. She earned  all-conference and all-district honors in high school.


Western Dubuque joins MVC in tight vote

The Western Dubuque Bobcats will become the 16th member of the Mississippi Valley Conference in the 2018-19 school year.

The Western Dubuque school board approved the switch from the Wamac  Conference to the Mississippi Valley Conference by the slimmest of votes, 3-2, at their meeting Monday night.

The new Liberty High School in North Liberty also will be joining the  MVC for the 2018-19 school year as the conference grows from 14 schools to 16.

This will be the first major change in the Mississippi Valley  Conference since 1992, when Regis, Cedar Falls, Waterloo West and Waterloo East joined the league. Xavier joined the MVC in 1998 when  Regis and LaSalle merged to form one high school.

There was considerable debate at the Western Dubuque school board  meeting before a roll-call vote was taken. The first school board  member voted against the move, but the next three members voting in favor to approve the measure, ending the suspense. The fifth and final  member voted no, but did not affect the outcome.

"It was a 3-to-2 vote, so a little bit close, but still a majority  said yes, so we're on our way to the MVC to be up and running by  2018-19," Western Dubuque athletic director John Hlubek said in a telephone interview shortly after the meeting.

"It was the last item on our school board agenda and the room was  packed," he said. "It was what everybody was waiting to see. There  were a few people that think it's not the right move and there were a lot of people who thought it was the right move.


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