TREYNOR, Iowa — With one strike to go, all the hours of practice in the basement and all of the near misses started to hit Sydni Huisman.
“It was 2-2, and I just got chills down my spine,” the Treynor senior said. “I was like, ‘OK, I’ve got one more pitch to go.’ ”
Huisman swung her right arm and delivered her state-leading 361st strikeout, sending the No. 7 Cardinals to state after a 5-3 victory over unrated Southeast Valley in the Class 3-A, Region 7 final Monday on the Treynor diamond.
It’s Treynor’s first state trip since finishing as the 2-A runner-up in 2013, and its fifth journey to Fort Dodge in all. The Cardinals (30-3) earned the sixth seed and will meet third-seeded, fourth-rated West Liberty (28-5) at 11:30 a.m. on July 23 at the Rogers Sports Complex.
Huisman pitched in regional finals as an eighth-grader in 2015 and a sophomore in 2017. The Cardinals lost in the semifinal round in 2016 and 2018.
“I’ve been seeing her carry a weight that I hated, especially in this postseason run,” said her mother, Treynor coach Kara Huisman. “She just didn’t want to fail. She didn’t want to fail her team. She felt like she’d done it one too many times. She needed this.”
A Cardinal squad that had often dominated southwest Iowa opponents this season was pressed to the final pitch against a dangerous Jaguar outfit. The younger Huisman had allowed only six earned runs in 196 innings entering the game for a miniscule 0.21 ERA, but Southeast Valley (23-15) put together several excellent swings, especially late.
Trailing 2-0 in the top of the fifth, the Jaguars jumped back into contention. Cassi Berglund beat out a bunt single with one out. With two outs, after fouling a pitch off her mouth that caused it to bleed, Shelby Cummins stepped back into the box and singled.
No. 9 batter Chloe Hicks, a late-season addition to the lineup, delivered her first extra-base hit of the season and fourth in all, a ringing two-run double that tied the game.
Treynor responded in the bottom of the fifth. Konnor Sudmann started it with a one-out single, her third of the game, and Alyssa Kellar beat out a bunt single to put runners at the corners. Sudmann was thrown out at home by the third baseman, leaving runners at second and third. The Jaguars intentionally walked Sydni Huisman to load the bases for Bella Dingus, who was hit in the back on the first pitch to plate the go-ahead run. Senior Reagan Darrah lined a two-run single up the middle to put the Cardinals up 5-2.
Southeast Valley got one back in the sixth when Morgan Castenson doubled and scored on Kenzie Crampton’s bad-hop single.
In the seventh, Cummins singled with one out, but the younger Huisman regrouped and closed it out to improve her record to 29-2.
As the mother of catcher Kasey Lundberg, Southeast Valley coach Heather Lundberg has been coaching this group since it was in second grade.
“I’m maybe a little more emotional,” she said. “It’s a group I’ve been around forever. I really thought we were going to be done the first round, so for us to battle back and be able to compete was nice.”
Sudmann finished 3 for 4. She came out for the first time in her high school career this summer, leading the team in batting average, and classmate Kayla Chapman joined for the first time since the eighth grade. They led Treynor to the 2-A state basketball title last season.
“I begged Konnor for so many years,” Sydni Huisman said. “Konnor and Kayla have been a huge benefit to our team. I thank them so much for coming out and helping us hang our last banner of our high school career.”
Southeast Valley (23-15)...........000 021 0—3 7 1
Treynor (30-3).........................101 030 x—5 7 0
W: Sydni Huisman. L: Mackenzie Crampton. 2B: SV, Chloe Hicks, Morgan Castenson.