MARION - As the prep volleyball season nears the midway point, Cedar Rapids Xavier identified a vital ingredient if the Saints are to retain their No. 1 ranking in Class 4A.
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FORT DODGE — Three big innings led to a very big mismatch.
And a harvest of records for top-ranked Lansing Kee.
The Hawks tied all-time, all-class marks in runs (18) and hits (23) in an 18-1 Class 1A quarterfinal rout of Montezuma at the state softball tournament Monday afternoon at the Rogers Sports Complex.
“We’ve been here before, and we knew what to expect,” said Kendra Cooper, whose five hits also tied a state-tourney record.
The defending state champion, Kee (36-2) faces No. 7 Westwood (30-10) in a semifinal at 7 p.m. Thursday. Westwood defeated No. 11 Colfax-Mingo, 11-9.
Nearly the entire Kee roster is made of state-tournament veterans. The Hawks were runners-up in 2014, then won it all in 2016.
“We know what it’s like here, and we don’t let the atmosphere intimidate us,” catcher Chloe Severson said.
Montezuma (19-13), on the other hand, is a first-time state participant.
All nine of the Hawks’ starters registered at least one hit. The plate heroes were many:
* Cooper was 5-for-6, drove in three runs and reached base all six times she batted.
* Courtney Cooper was 3-for-5.
* Severson was 3-for-4, hit her ninth home run of the season in a nine-run seventh inning, and drove in three.
* Katie Brennan was 3-for-6 and knocked in a pair.
* The No. 9 hitter, Sydney Strong was 2-for-4, including a second-inning double that plated the first two runs of the game. She scored three times and drove in four.
* Nicki Wood, Makayla Walleser and Casey Welsh all added two hits.
“We prepared all week,” Kendra Cooper said. “We were all batting good. We had a lot of good contact.”
Meanwhile, Cooper (19-1) stifled the Bravettes. The junior scattered three hits — none in the first four innings — with a 12-strikeout, three-walk gem.
“I got a little tired at the end,” Cooper said. “I’ve got a great catcher (Severson), and Coach (Elizabeth Hill) called a great game.”
Kee High tallied five runs in the second inning, four in the fifth and nine in the seventh.
“Coach Hill made sure we were ready,” Severson said. “We do a lot of mental stuff.”
As Severson spoke, a fan walked by with a large, purple tree branch.
“It’s our Rally Tree,” Severson said. “We found it when we played at West Delaware (in a mid-June tournament). We took it home with us, and spray-painted it the next day.”
Montezuma (19-13) faces Colfax-Mingo (25-12) in a consolation semifinal at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
LANSING KEE 18, MONTEZUMA 1
Class 1A State Quarterfinal, at Fort Dodge
Lansing Kee 050 040 9 — 18 23 0
Montezuma 000 001 0 — 1 3 3
Kendra Cooper and Chloe Severson. Hanna Jones, Kailey Jones (7) and Cassidy Watts. W — Cooper (19-1). L — Jones (16-11). HR — KEE: Severson (9).
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