Prep Softball

Maria Steffen pitches Xavier to a split with Jefferson

J-Hawks take the opener 2-0, then Saints prevail in 8 innings

CEDAR RAPIDS — Maria Steffen was spent.

“Physically and mentally, I’m exhausted,” she said. “Coach (Nikki Gahring) said she was shutting me down tomorrow.”

For good reason.

Steffen pitched all 15 innings as Class 4A seventh-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier managed a Mississippi Valley Conference softball doubleheader split with 5A No. 4 Cedar Rapids Jefferson on Tuesday at Bob Erusha Field.

Jefferson (13-2 overall, 8-2 MVC) captured the opener, 2-0, behind Erica Oler’s six-hit shutout, then Xavier (7-6, 6-4) salvaged the nightcap, 11-10, in eight innings.

“We knew we had to come out of here with a split,” Steffen said. “Everybody sucked it up at the end and came through.”

Xavier jumped to a 7-2 lead in the second game, and it was still 7-4 with the bases empty and two outs in the top of the seventh.

But Emily Kuba’s two-run double tied it, then Gabby Zach’s single put Jefferson in front, 8-7.

The Saints tied it in the bottom of the inning. Lindsey Culver’s two-run double gave the J-Hawks a 10-8 lead in the top of the eighth, then the Saints went back to work.

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Two errors played a key role, and the Saints won it on Olivia Richards’ infield grounder with one out.

“I’m proud of the fight in the team,” Gahring said. “We fought, fought, fought until the end.”

The second game was a clunker defensively; the teams combined for 10 errors.

Steffen actually pitched better in the game she lost; both of Jefferson’s runs in Game 1 were unearned. The J-Hawks got a run in the top of the first and another on Kuba’s RBI single in the sixth.

“You’ve got to give her credit,” Jefferson Coach Brian Erbe said of Steffen. “She toughed it up. Both teams showed some toughness by coming from behind.

“We’ll learn from this. The sun will come up tomorrow ... at 5:45 in the weight room.” 

C.R. JEFFERSON 2-10, C.R. XAVIER 0-11 (2nd,8)

At Bob Erusha Field

Game 1

C.R. Jefferson 100 001 0 — 2 8 3

C.R. Xavier 000 000 0 — 0 6 3

Erica Oler and Hannah Markham. Maria Steffen and Olivia Richards. W — Oler (8-0). L — Steffen (6-3).

Game 2

C.R. Jefferson 200 110 42 — 10 12 6

C.R. Xavier 205 000 13 — 11 10 4

Courtney Rawson, Erica Oler (3) and Hannah Markham. Maria Steffen and Olivia Richards. W — Steffen (7-3). L — Oler (9-1).

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

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