Linn-Mar comes up just short of home tournament title

Lions upset Kennedy before falling to Waverly-Shell Rock

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MARION — Linn-Mar’s surprising run in the Linn-Mar/Alburnett softball tournament ended just short of a title with a 5-1 loss to Waverly-Shell Rock Saturday.

After upsetting Class 5A No. 3 Cedar Rapids Kennedy 2-0 earlier in the day, the Lions could not find more magic to pull off the upset of the Class 4A No. 5 Go-Hawks.

The Lions out hit the Go-Hawks 5-3, with all three Go-Hawks hits coming in the bottom of the third inning. The third would prove decisive, however.

Kelsey Young hit a sacrifice fly, then Kali Matthias hit a two-run home run to left center field to take a 3-0 lead.

Linn-Mar got one run back on a single by Cassie Waller in the fourth inning, but that was the only run to cross the plate for Lions.

Linn-Mar head coach John Begley said the championship game was a case of running into a good team at a bad time.

“They just played better than we did,” Begley said. “They had the two-run home run. That was a big difference in the game. They just pitched better than we did, and they deserved to win the game.”

Kelsey Aikey pitched a six strikeout complete game for the Go-Hawks and completely shut down the Lions. Linn-Mar had a runner on third in both the sixth and seventh innings, but failed to turn the runner into a run. Aikey induced two fly balls to end the sixth, and she struck out one and got another fly ball to end the game.

W-SR looked every bit the better team on Saturday, but Begley said his team has no reason to be down about the end result.

“This tournament had 16 teams in it, a lot of quality teams, to get to the championship game was a big achievement for us,” Begley said. “We upset Kennedy ... we cannot hang our heads. We played well.

“Sometimes you’ve got to admit the other team played better than you did.”

That really was the case in Marion. Aside from a walk, a passed ball and a wild pitch — none of which cost them — the Go-Hawks played a very clean game.

The Lions starting pitcher, Katie Anderson, said she thought her team could beat the Go-Hawks a second time around.

“I think their hitting game was very strong today,” Anderson said. “I think if we could catch up to their pitcher it’d be a lot better.”

The hits simply did not fall for the Lions. More often than not, Aikey induced fly outs, and the balls that did land or leave the infield went for singles.

Even the one-out threat of Morgan Braughton’s triple in the top of the seventh was quickly thwarted by Aikey.

“We’ve been in a little slump, and we finally put some things together,” Waverly-Shell Rock head coach Brent Matthias said. “When Kelsey Aikey is in the circle, we know we’ve got a shot against anybody ... It’s been a big thing we’ve been focusing on is play good defense and get the key hits.”

Despite coming up just short of winning their home tournament, the Lions called the 3-1 record on the weekend a success.

“I thought it was a great tournament because we’ve never really done that well in our home tournament,” Anderson said. “It was great that we made the championship.”

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