(KMAland) -- The second of four teams to be inducted into the 2017-18 KMA Sports Hall of Fame class is Riverside's state softball qualifier from 1998.
Riverside advanced to the state softball tournament for the second time in three years, but this one was such a surprise it even shocked the Bulldogs head man.
"They finished fourth in the (Western Iowa) conference," Riverside's head coach Gary Wax said on Friday's Upon Further Review. "It seemed like we could just never get a real strong footing. We'd win three or four in a row, but then drop one or two. We even had one stretch where we lost five in a row. It was a learning experience all year."
Wax's team entered the regional tournament with a modest 24-16 record, but that's when the real fun began. After handling Walnut, the Bulldogs upset Coon Rapids-Bayard in a wild battle.
"They had won their conference," Wax said. "When the announcer asked me how we finished, and I told him fourth, they thought they had it in the bag. They scored five runs in the first, but we came back and scored seven."
"It started sprinkling and raining," he continued. "It was kind of an ugly and sloppy game, and we were able to hold on. I think after that night, they started to believe, but then we had to go to Underwood."
The WIC champion Underwood beat Riverside three times that year, but Wax said they played a nearly perfect game to spring the upset. Still, they were a win over IKM away from qualifying for state.
"I had a scouting report from four different coaches that said don't let this Rasmussen kid beat you," Wax said. "She came up once with runners on 1st and 2nd, and we tried to intentionally walk her."
Wax said even completing the intentional walk was a bit of a journey - much like their season.
"We almost had illegal pitches and couldn't quite field the ball at the plate," he added. "We finally got four pitches to walk her, and the next kid hit a rocket to Tracy Reed at short. She made a fantastic play to throw her out."
At state, Riverside dropped their first round game, won their consolation matchup and then had their 5th place consolation game cancelled due to rain for a final record of 29-17. However, the team will best be remembered by their magical run through regional play.
"We weren't a real great team," Wax said, "but everybody had to contribute. I think they felt they all had the ability to contribute in a positive way, and when they got their chance, they did it. We had 13 girls that played that year, and they all contributed in some way to get to the state tournament and at the state tournament."
Around the field for Riverside's 1998 state team:
Pitchers: Molly Henry and Heather Pitt
Catcher: Shiloh Kvaal
First Base: Staci Vorthmann and Jennifer "J.J." Lockwood
Second Base: Paula Martens
Shortstop: Tracy Reed
Third Base: Lane Jeppesen
Outfield: Jenni Ihde, Lindsey Rollins, Suzy Bass
Hear the full interview with Coach Wax here.
A KMA Sports Hall of Fame announcement will be made on Upon Further Review at 11:50 AM each weekday until August 28th.
2017-18 KMA Sports Hall of Fame Announcement Schedule
Friday, August 4th — 1998 Riverside State Qualifier (Softball)
Monday, August 7th — Softball (Individual)
Tuesday, August 8th — Soccer (Individual)
Wednesday, August 9th — Female Track & Field (Individual)
Thursday, August 10th — Male Track & Field (Individual)
Friday, August 11th — Male Tennis (Individual)
Monday, August 14th — Female Tennis (Individual)
Tuesday, August 15th — Female Basketball (Individual)
Wednesday, August 16th — Male & Female Golf (Individual)
Thursday, August 17th — Volleyball (Individual)
Friday, August 18th — Male Basketball (Individual)
Monday, August 21st — Female Cross Country (Individual)
Tuesday, August 22nd — Football (Individual)
Wednesday, August 23rd — Track & Field (Team)
Thursday, August 24th — Male Cross Country (Individual)
Friday, August 25th — Basketball (Team)
Monday, August 28th — Legacy Award