CEDAR RAPIDS — With a leaping catch, Clear Creek Amana pitcher Lexi Kinnaird halted all hopes of advancement for Cedar Rapids Xavier in the Class 4A regional softball tournament Saturday.
“The coaches always joke about not having me dive in games, but I had a feeling I could get to it,” Kinnaird said. “They thought it was foul, but I just wanted to put it all out there and get that catch.”
Kinnaird’s leaping grab sealed a 2-0 shutout regional semifinal victory against the Saints (33-7).
Behind Kinnaird’s pitching was a core defense that held the Saints to just two hits for the game. The Saints had a glimmer of hope in the fifth inning, but nothing came of a potential rally.
Kinnaird said it was important for her to have the solid game she did and also praised the defense.
“I couldn’t do it without my defense,” Kinnaird said. “It makes it easy for a pitcher to throw that kind of game with the defense that I had tonight.”
Molly Villhauer was the heroine for the Clippers (21-7), finishing her evening 3-for-3 with a home run in the first inning, a double and a single. Villhauer was credited with a helping hand in both runs for the Clippers.
“It was important because I knew once one of us starts hitting, we all start hitting,” Villhauer said. “I knew if I could do it, anyone else could do it.”
The Clippers made decent contact with the ball all evening but had only four hits.
Heading into Tuesday’s final with Washington (Iowa), Kinnaird and Villhauer said they’re ready for whatever comes their way.
“It was important to prove to ourselves, to prove what we can do,” Kinnaird said. “This is a good start in the right direction for our momentum Tuesday.”
“We know how we play and we know we can play with anyone,” Villhauer said.
First pitch Tuesday at Xavier is 7 p.m.