Chickasaws claim fourth straight NEIC title
New Hampton made history Tuesday night as it pulled off a rarity by claiming its fourth straight Northeast Iowa Conference baseball title, although the Chickasaws had to share in the spoils this year.
The Chickasaws earned at least a share of the league title with a 5-3 win over Charles City in the first game of a doubleheader, but the Comets erased an early 4-0 deficit to win the nightcap 8-5.
The split gave New Hampton a 14-4 league record, and Waverly Shell-Rock and Decorah, which both swept doubleheaders on Tuesday, also finished with 14-4 NEIC marks.
Although it was easy to see the disappointment on some of the Chickasaws’ faces, coach Cory McDonald would have none of that in his postgame speech to his team.
“You are four-time conference champions … and that might never be done again,” he said. “You hold your heads high. You are part of a select, elite, special rare group, and I’m proud of you.”
New Hampton got took a quick 2-0 lead in the opener as Josh Fenske led off with a double, moved to third on a Mason Cleveland infield bunt that went for an infield single and scored when Cleveland stole second and the ball sailed into center field. Cleveland made it 2-0 when he scored on Aden Zwanziger’s groundout.
The Chickasaws struck for three more runs in the third to make it 5-0 and rode the pitching of Noah Fye and outstanding defense, especially from Cleveland at short, to the win.
Fye gave up seven hits, waked four and struck out five as he improved to 5-0.
In the second game, a Keegan Kane two-run single made it 4-0 in the top of the first inning, but the Comets, who beat all three co-champions once this season, struck for seven runs in the bottom of the frame.
New Hampton left 13 runners on base, including one on third in each of the first five innings.
Still, McDonald was exceedingly proud of his team.
“No one but you guys and those folks out there,” he said as he pointed to New Hampton parents and family members, “expected you to be here. Be proud.”
Decorah earned its share of the title by beating Crestwood 12-5 and then rallying from a 2-0 deficit for a 3-2 win in the nightcap while Waverly-Shell Rock got its piece of the trophy with a 10-0 win and a 6-5 nine-inning victory over Oelwein.
The only other schools to claim at least a share of four straight titles are Oelwein, which won five straight from 1999 to 2003, Charles City, which won four straight from 1981 to 1984, Decorah, which won five straight from 1978 to 1982 and Decorah, which won four straight from 1972 to 1975.
— For more on this story, see the July 6 Tribune