South Page compiled a historic season on the softball diamond in 1998 that culminated with the first-ever trip to the Class 1A State Softball Tournament for the Rebels.
The Rebels qualified for the tournament with a 4-1 win over Interstate-35, Truro, in the regional finals. South Page finished the year with an overall record of 27-10, which tied the school record for wins set by the Rebels a season earlier.
Although the 1998 season marked the pinnacle of success for South Page, over the course of nine seasons, from 1995 through 2003, the Rebels won an impressive eight district championships and five Corner Conference softball titles. South Page claimed district titles in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2003. The Rebels also secured conference championships in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2001.
As the spread of the COVID-19 virus has now resulted in the cancelation of spring sports in Iowa, we will continue to look back at some of the greatest games and athletic achievements from Clarinda High School and South Page High School. Send your suggestions by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include CHS Greatest Game in the subject line and provide the year as part of the email so we can search our archives to find the story.
Please enjoy this account of the 1998 State Softball Tournament appearance by the South Page Rebels taken from the archives of the Clarinda Herald-Journal.
With horns blaring and players and fans screaming, the South Page Rebels embarked Monday on the road to the first appearance in school history at the girls’ state softball tournament in Fort Dodge.
After defeating Truro Interstate 35 4-1 in the regional finals last Wednesday, the Rebels were set to face Central Elkader in the first round of the state tournament Monday evening.
“It’s a dream come true to make it to state and we hope to represent our conference and Southwest Iowa to the best of our ability. I want to thank our fans for their tremendous support,” South Page Coach Renee Kettwick said following the Rebels’ victory in the regional finals.
In their first inning at the state tournament, the Rebels struck for three early runs to jump out in front.
However, Central Elkader battled back and evened the score 3-3 to set up a thrilling fifth inning of action Monday evening.
South Page pushed back in front by scoring a pair of runs in the top of the inning.
With the Rebels leading 5-3 heading to the bottom of the fifth inning Central Elkader again had its work cut out, but responded by scoring three times to take a 6-5 advantage.
Then, in the sixth inning, the Rebels saw the deficit grow to 9-5. Down to their final three outs of the game South Page was unable to mount a rally and lost by that score.
A unique feature of the girls state softball tournament is that the top eight teams play for their ranking in the state. So, while the Rebels now move into the consolation bracket, they are still guaranteed of playing two more games at the state tournament and can still place as high as fifth.
As it had during the regular season, solid defense, strong pitching and potent offense were what propelled South Page to the state tournament.
Like they did at state, South Page started quickly in the regional finals as Carrie Moffit singled and scored on a first inning triple by Jill Anderson.
Then, with the score even in the fourth inning, Jessica Romanowski singled, stole two bases and scored the go ahead run on a double by Scarlett Davis.
Romanowski finished with two hits and scored a pair of Rebel runs, while Jill Anderson, Kristen Anderson and Moffit also added two hits each for the Rebels in the victory.
Meanwhile, Molly Driftmier was in control on the mound as she limited Interstate 35 to only three hits and one unearned run.
The Rebels added two insurance runs in the sixth inning to secure the regional championship and a spot in the state tournament.
“This was a total team effort with everybody doing their part to secure the win. Our three seniors all had big games as Molly once again pitched a great game, tossing a three hitter at a very good hitting club. Kristin (Anderson) had two hits and made seven defensive plays in the field without an error, including the last four outs of the game, and Scarlett’s RBI double in the fourth inning turned out to be the game winning RBI,” Kettwick said.
Following the win the Rebels spent nearly an hour on the field at Mount Ayr savoring the moment and enjoying the historic victory.
South Page reached the championship game by disposing of Lenox in the regional semifinals on July 28 by a 4-0 score.
The Rebels dodged a bullet in the top of the first inning as the leadoff batter for Lenox reached third with no outs. But, with catcher Sara Rope calling just the right pitch in the situation and Driftmier rocking and firing, the Rebels recorded outs on a fielder’s choice and two strikeouts to strand the runner at third.
Moffit then started the game with a walk and again scored a first inning run for South Page to get the offense rolling in the bottom of the frame. She would also add a single later in the contest.
That 1-0 lead was enough as Driftmier gave up only two hits on the night and did not allow any Lenox runners to cross the plate as she finished with seven strikeouts.
South Page secured the win by scoring three times in the sixth inning to put the game out of reach.
With one away Rope received a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Romanowski also received a free pass.
Driftmier then hit back to the pitcher who threw out Rope at third as Romanowski move up to second and Driftmier took her spot at first. Now, with two away, the Rebels went to a double steal.
“The key play was when Jessica Romanowski stole third base and forced an errant throw from the catcher allowing her to score. Another run scored on a throwing error to first and Anna Strong put the finishing touch on the inning with an RBI double,’ Kettwick explained.
With the Rebels now holding a comfortable 4-0 advantage, Driftmier took to the hill in the top of the seventh inning and promptly sat Lenox down in order.
Rebels end historic year
A historic softball season for the South Page Rebels has come to a close.
The Rebels made their first ever appearance in the girls’ state softball tournament last week in Fort Dodge securing their spot as one of the top eight teams in Iowa in Class 1A.
South Page finished the year with an impressive 271-0 record, matching a school record for wins set by the Rebels last season.
The team embarked on its trip to the state tournament on Monday morning and received a rousing send-off from parents and fans showing their support and appreciation for all the team had accomplished.
The Rebels opened the tournament with a bang, scoring three times in their first at bat of the tournament against Central Elkader.
“We could not have asked for a better start to the tournament as we scored three runs in the top half of the first inning,” South Page Coach Renee Kettwick explained.
But the Warriors battled back and edged the Rebels 9-5 sending South Page into the consolation bracket.
Weather played havoc with the rest of the schedule for the Rebels as their games Wednesday against Moravia was pushed back to Thursday morning. Amidst a steady drizzle Moravia struck for five first inning runs and held on to defeat South Page 5-1.
South Page still had an opportunity to leave the state tournament with a victory as they were scheduled to play Friday morning in a game to determine the seventh place finisher.
However, that game was canceled due to weather. The Iowa Girls’ High School Athletic Union canceled all consolation bracket games.
“All in all it was a great experience to make it to state, although the girls were disappointed that they didn’t come away with a win. ... But they have absolutely nothing to feel badly about as they were the first South Page team to make it to state in softball. In addition, 28 teams were vying for the Region 3 championship, but our team was the only one to advance through it and make it to state. Finishing in a tie for seventh place is still something to be proud of considering that there were approximately 250 teams in Class 1A across the state and only eight of them made it to Fort Dodge,” Kettwick concluded.