Cardiac Mustangs strike again

Iola High saved the best for last in a wild and wacky night on the softball diamond Tuesday. The Mustangs secured a pair of walk-off victories, 11-10 and 14-13, over Osawatomie. It marked the second and third straight games Iola has won in such a manner.



April 17, 2024 - 2:42 PM

Iola HIgh's Zoie Hesse, top, tags out Osawatomie Jules Beery at home plate Tuesday. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

Are we sure Forrest Gump wasn’t talking about high school softball, instead of chocolates, when he noted you never know what you’re gonna get?

Take Iola High’s Mustangs, who entered Tuesday’s doubleheader without the pitching services of ace Elza Clift because of a sore forearm.

To keep her in the lineup, but not further tax her arm, Mustang head coach Chris Weide put Clift at first base, creating a domino effect on plugging players into new positions.

“These are things we’d try in practice, but would never do in a game,” Weide noted.

Until Tuesday.

The makeshift defensive lines kept things spicy through both games of Iola’s doubleheader against Osawatomie.

And of course, both came down to the final play.

By the time the dust settled late into the night, Iola had secured back-to-back walk-off victories, 11-10 and 14-13, both in spectacular fashion.

Harper Desmarteau’s bases-clearing double turned a 10-8 deficit into a one-run victory in the opener.

And then, after Osawatomie rallied for eight runs in the top of the seventh to tie Game 2 at 13-13, Clift lifted a fly ball that glanced off the Trojan centerfielder’s glove and rolled to the wall.

Clift did the rest, roaring around the bases as the ball was retrieved and fired back to the infield.

Iola High’s Kinsey Schinstock pitches against Osawatomie Tuesday.Photo by Richard Luken

The relay throw even beat Clift to the plate, as she collided with Osawatomie’s catcher KayLee Johns, who was unable to field the ball cleanly.

The collision sent Clift sprawling, but she was able to compose herself and step on home before the ball could be retrieved for the game-winner.

“I’ll tell you what,” Weide said. “For not having your number one pitcher, and having to pitch girls not used to throwing so many innings, we had some kids really step up for us. I’m really proud of the girls for what they did tonight.”

HERE’S what happened:

With Clift relegated to first base duties, Weide turned to freshman Zoie Hesse to start Game 1, and junior Kinsey Schinstock for the nightcap.

Hesse, who has struggled with her control in the first half of the season, nevertheless kept things in hand in the opener as the teams traded the lead like bubblegum cards.

Osawatomie jumped ahead 1-0 before Hesse ripped an RBI single to tie the score in the bottom of the inning. Harper Desmarteau pushed a run with a bases-loaded walk before Hesse roped a line drive to right, scoring two more, for a 4-1 lead.

The Trojans evened the score in the top of the third, but Iola pushed back ahead on Alana Mader’s sac fly in the bottom of the inning.

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