Jul 11

Humboldt to State! Van Pelt: “This is a Softball Family”

By: Nathan Bloechl — nathanb@977thebolt.com

Humboldt, Iowa  — As a die-hard Chicago Cub fan, Humboldt Wildcat head softball coach Doug Van Pelt cracked a witty joke amidst fighting back all the necessary emotion that comes from watching his team reach stage one of the pinnacle of softball in the state of Iowa.

There’s no reason Humboldt can’t win a state championship if the Chicago Cubs can win it all” Van Pelt smiled.

While it wasn’t a century-plus wait, it was still a moment waiting in the wings for far too long for Van Pelt and his Humboldt Wildcats.

Building his program from the ground-up, Van Pelt eclipsed the 500-win mark this season and has turned his school into one of the state’s perennial powers.

However, playoff success, especially recently, has escaped Humboldt.

This year, a veteran and senior-laden team would not stand for it.

Led by the fiery and ultra competitive Avery Terwilliger, Humboldt pulled together for a sublime collective performance defeating Southeast Valley 5-0 yesterday to earn a trip to Fort Dodge.

This will mark the Wildcats first trip to State since 2006.

You see a lot of kids here, that have played for Humboldt in the past, it’s for all of them” Van Pelt said. “It’s a tradition, it’s a Humboldt Softball family, we’ve had a lot of good teams that have been good enough to play in Fort Dodge and for whatever reason didn’t. This is for all of them.

Humboldt jumped on the Jaguars first in the second inning as Mady Lange lead the frame off with one of her three hits on the night. Kelsey Peters followed with a two-base error after attempting to sacrifice Lange to second.

Lange would score a batter later on a wild pitch, while Taylor Gidel would bunt home Peters. 

Humboldt would load the bases later in the second, but Jaguar stater Kenzie Crampton would retire Beth Duffield and Avery Terwilliger to strand the maximum.

Wildcat right-hander Ellie Jacobson set down the first twelve she faced in order, but not without the help of a base-running blunder by Southeast Valley that could have changed the complexion of the game.

Pitcher Kenzie Crampton belted a solo home run off Jacobson but umpires deemed Crampton missed third-base on her trot around the bases, the Wildcats won the appeal, keeping it a 2-0 game.

As it turned out, that would have been more than enough for Jacobson who dazzled for Humboldt yet again.

The wunderkind threw seven shutout innings, allowing just one hit to secure her 26th victory of the season. Jacobson pitched and earned the victory and each of Humboldt’s first three victories this post-season.

We don’t have a lot of weaknesses” explained Van Pelt. “We’ve got power, we can spray the ball, we can bunt, we can slap. Defensively, we have great pitching, a great outfield. This is just a solid, solid team and each kid performs their role.”

Humboldt went on to add two in the fourth and one in the fifth to pad their lead, Jacobson worked around a one-out single to strike out Cassidy Lambert to preserve the victory.

We talked about it, you’ve got to be relaxed and focused, we’ve played thirty-five games this year, won thirty-one, this was not our first rodeo, we’ve been there and done that in every other sport [this year]” Van Pelt asserted.

The senior class of girls has won NCC titles in Cross Country, Track, Volleyball and set a school record for wins in Basketball, they also had participants on the State Champion Golf team.

This is the ultimate of high school sports, there’s no specialization here, they’re just winners in every sport, across all seasons. They just were not going to lose this, there was no way.”

Humboldt will take on Center Point-Urbana in round one of the 3A Softball tournament, the Wildcats are seeded 4th and will play Monday, July 17th at 7:30 p.m.