Kirkwood powers into regional softball final

McBeain has four RBIs and throws 2 2/3 hitless innings in relief

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Hot bats and a fast start.

Kirkwood used that formula for another postseason victory and pulled within a win of extending its postseason.

The Eagles scored nine runs in the first two innings and cruised to a 12-4 triumph in six innings over Iowa Lakes in the winner’s bracket of the NJCAA Region XI-B Division II softball tournament Thursday at Kirkwood. The Eagles advance to Friday’s championship set for noon.

“We were in total control for the first three innings,” Kirkwood Coach Joe Yegge said. “Then, I think we went into La La Land in the fourth. Without those two innings, it’s a different ballgame.”

Kirkwood (51-4) opened the regional tournament with a 20-0 win in five innings over Southwestern and continued to batter opposing pitchers. This time, it was to the tune of 12 hits.

“Offensively, I like where we were today,” Yegge said. “We’re swinging it. We’re hitting it pretty well these last two days.”

The Eagles built a 9-0 lead after their first two at-bats, sending 17 batters to the plate. The opening inning was highlighted by Morgan Frost’s two-run double off the center-field wall.

A few batters later, Angie McBeain clear the wall for a three-run home run and a 5-0 lead after the first.

McBeain wasn’t finished. She capped the four-run second with a single that scored Frost. McBeain’s fourth RBI came on the heels of DoniRae Mayhew‘s three-run home run.

Scoring early and often helps Kirkwood set the tone for the game. Eight Eagles had at least one hit.

“It gives us all the momentum,” McBeain said. “When we come out, blazing that first inning, stomping on their throats right away, we get the momentum and go with it. Nothing can stop us.”

McBeain contributed on the mound. After started Lexi Kinnaird allowed four runs in the fourth, McBeain came in for relief. She didn’t allow a hit or walk in 2 2/3 innings.

“She’s been great for us,” said Yegge, noting she’s given up just one hit in three outings against Iowa Lakes. “We didn’t expect her to be much of a pitcher for us this year. We kind of had her slated as a third pitcher, but she’s come on and done a great job.

“When she’s on offensively, she’s one of the best hitters in the country.”

For McBeain, it doesn’t matter where she’s pitching as long as it leads to team success.

“My favorite is just contributing to help the team win,” McBeain said. “If I’m helping them win by pitching, then that’s great. If I’m helping them win by being at the plate, that’s even better. I don’t have a favorite. If I’m helping, that’s all I care about.”

Kirkwood will face the winner of Iowa Lakes and Southwestern. The Eagles will have to win just one of two possible games Friday to advance to district play next week.

“I think we still have two of the best pitchers in the league,” Yegge said. “We’re in the driver’s seat and that’s all that matters is the momentum we have there.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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