Lindsey Culver hits for cycle; Jefferson breaks away from Linn-Mar

Softball: Up 2-1 after 5 innings, No. 9 J-Hawks blast Lions, 12-1

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Lindsey Culver was a fortuitous bounce away from two home runs in the same inning.

She settled for a mere cycle.

“That’s pretty cool, too,” she said.

Ninth-ranked Cedar Rapids Jefferson sprinted away in the final two innings and downed No. 15 Linn-Mar, 12-1, in a Class 5A regional-semifinal softball game Saturday night at Larry Niemeyer Field.

Leading just 2-1 after five innings, the J-Hawks (31-8) tallied three times in the sixth and tacked on seven in the seventh, and they advance to Tuesday’s regional final at No. 7 Urbandale (31-7).

“I was really, really worried early in the game,” said J-Hawks Coach Brian Erbe. “We left a lot of runners in scoring position, and you just can’t do that.”

Well, you can if you figure it out eventually, and the J-Hawks did.

Jefferson leads the state (all classes) in batting average (.437) and on-base percentage (.499), and the J-Hawks struck for 15 hits Saturday.

“You can chalk that up to the team more than any player or players,” said third baseman Erin Kuba, the J-Hawks lone senior, who played her final game here. “One through 9, we have girls that can hit home runs and hit gappers.”

Culver was 4-for-5 with a little bit of everything — a double in the second inning that opened a two-run rally, then started the sixth-inning uprising with a single.

Then came the top of the seventh. She led off with a first-pitch home run to left field, then came up again with two outs and Jefferson in front, 10-1.

Again on the first pitch, she sent another drive to left that hit off the yellow tube on the top of the fence, then bounced back into play. Two runs scored, and Culver had her cycle-completing triple.

“Two homers, a cycle ... I’ll take either one,” she said.

Linn-Mar (26-15) managed just three hits off Erica Oler (17-2), but trailed just 2-1 after Michaela Kennedy’s double in the fifth inning plated a run. But the momentum quickly swung back in Jefferson’s direction for good.

Kuba reached base in all five of her plate appearances, with three hits and two walks. Sydney Briney was 3-for-4 and drove in the J-Hawks’ first run.

CEDAR RAPIDS JEFFERSON 12, LINN-MAR 1

Class 5A Regional Semifinal, at C.R. Jefferson

C.R. Jefferson 020 003 7 — 12 15 2

Linn-Mar 000 010 0 — 1 3 2

Erica Oler and Hannah Markham. Morgan Braughton, Katie Smith (7) and Christina Lincoln. W — Oler (17-2). L — Braughton (14-9). HR — CRJ: Lindsey Culver (7).

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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