NICL West Softball Champions: BCLUW makes undefeated run

BCLUW’s Easton Swanson (left) and head coach Megan Yantis watch the pitcher during a game at Grundy Center earlier this season. Swanson is the leading hitter for the NICL West champion Comets that just completed a 12-0 run through the league. (Grundy Register file photo)

CONRAD – BCLUW softball felt like they left something on the table last summer.


The Comets' bid for a three-peat as NICL West champions was disrupted by a four-loss league campaign and BCLUW was bounced from the postseason in the regional semifinal by East Marshall.


"I think that set us on fire to come back this season," Comet senior Bailey Ashton said.


Not only did BCLUW, ranked fifth in Class 1A, bounce back to win the Comets' third league title in the last four seasons, but they did it with a perfect 12-0 record, a rare unbeaten run through an NICL West that includes 1A's seventh-ranked AGWSR and 2A's ninth-ranked East Marshall.


"It's a huge accomplishment because it's not just winning a conference but winning a very good conference," Ashton said, "and that gives us confidence for the postseason tournament ahead."


Ashton, the Comets' starting pitcher, and the BCLUW defense have been sharp when it counted, with four of the Comets' wins decided by one run, including a trio of 1-0 wins against West Marshall, Grundy Center and AGWSR earlier in June.


With an almost equal number of starts compared to last season, the senior hurler's ERA is down 0.62 from last season, in addition to 147 strikeouts compared to 35 walks.


"Bailey's been throwing great this year," BCLUW head coach Megan Yantis said. "I really think our defense has been solid throughout the year behind her. There's been a few oops and slip ups, but the key is whether you bounce back or not and every time we're usually bouncing back either by scoring ourselves or stopping them from scoring. We have each other's back."


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