The Cedar Rapids Kennedy softball team was ready to win the class 5A state championship at Fort Dodge. They enjoyed a lopsided lead, and to cap a season with only one loss, the Cougar coach decided to put in a pinch runner.
Not needing speed, it was a proper moment to give a hardworking but seldom-used senior the thrill of playing in the state championship game.
The coach didn’t have that in mind. His replacement didn’t fit that logic. Instead, she was a freshman who played a key role in a successful season and was on the 2019 state tournament team.
The runner had a large foam mat around one arm. Her name was Addy Alber, a regular outfielder and backup catcher who entered the state tournament as the team leader in hits, a .500 batting average with an on-base percentage of .557.
She probably entered the game to be included in the box score of the championship game. The team cheered when she entered the game. Addy didn’t score. She may have been thrown out while running the bases.
Addy had injured her hand while working out to fill in as a catcher who was not able to play in the game.
Addy is the daughter of former Maquoketan Whitney Whitchelo and granddaughter of the late Ed Whitchelo and current resident Sharon Whitchelo.
Many Maquoketans know about the athletic fetes of Ed Whitchelo, the father of Todd, Stacie and Whitney. All had their big moments as Maquoketa athletes.
Addy was on the Kennedy varsity softball team as an eighth-grade reserve. It was strange for a player that young at a school as large as Kennedy.
She came up with a couple of key hits in pinch-hitting roles before being given a chance as a starter. After going three-for-three, she stayed in the regular lineup and went 9-for-12 in the first four games as a varsity regular.
Kennedy finished 37-4 in 2019 with Alber contributing a .400 batting average and an on-base percentage of .432.
She sustained that hitting pace this year while playing without an error in the field during the past season.
Her mother Whitney pitched four seasons for the Maquoketa Cardinals, sharing regular duties with Katie Burnett as a freshman and sophomore and compiling 11-9 and 12-7 records, similar to those of Burnett. Burnett took a larger share of the innings during the next two years.
Whitney finished with a career record of 33-22 and a career ERA of 1.70 in 382 innings pitched, with a total of 260 strikeouts.
The Cardinals advanced to the state tournament in 1998, when Burnett compiled a 19-9 record throwing 12 shutouts.
During a regular-season game at Monticello, Burnett and Jill Aschbrenner each pitched 15 scoreless innings before the Cardinals nailed down a 2-0 win.
That was the first game of a doubleheader. Whitchelo followed it up by throwing a no-hitter. But the Cardinal defense failed with four errors leading to four unearned Panther runs. The Cards lost the second game 4-1.
Whitney has a job with ARC in Cedar Rapids, assisting handicapped citizens.