116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — There were no special circumstances for Anna Streff.
No promises. No superstar treatment.
“She helps carry equipment for us,” Linn-Mar softball coach Lindsey Murray said. “She wasn’t going to walk right in and take over. She had to put action into it.
“If she was going to get a spot, she was going to have to earn it. And she knew that.”
Streff was in the Linn-Mar program as an eighth-grader, but spent the next three summers away, playing club ball exclusively — first for Iowa Premier, then for Nebraska Gold.
“I regret not coming back sooner,” she said. “I love all of these girls. They are tenacious, hard-working. And everybody was pretty cool with me coming back.”
Chemistry builds winning, and winning enhances chemistry. The Class 5A 10th-ranked Lions have plenty of both. Their Mississippi Valley Conference sweep of Cedar Rapids Prairie — 8-3 and 3-1 — Tuesday night at Oak Ridge Middle School secured a share of the Mississippi Division title.
“We’re going to take care of business tomorrow night (against Valley Division leader Dubuque Hempstead), because we don’t share!” Murray told her team in their postgame huddle, drawing a raucous response.
The Lions’ last divisional title came in 2007.
One more win — against Hempstead at home Wednesday or at Iowa City Liberty on Thursday — will seal the title outright for the Lions (29-4, 24-2).
That fact drew emotion from Murray, who — as Lindsey Digmann — played on Linn-Mar’s 2006 state runner-up team.
“I’m just so proud of them,” she said after collecting herself. “I played here as a kid. I poured my heart and soul into this place. And I wanted success for these girls so bad. I want them to feel what I did as a player.”
A senior and a University of Iowa commit, Streff bats cleanup and plays shortstop. She reached base five times Thursday, and the Lions played errorless ball all night.
“If our first three batters get on, Anna’s going to hit us in,” said Hannah Gralund, a senior who was 4-for-8, including a two-run home run that put the Lions in front for good in the first game.
It was Gralund’s seventh homer of the season.
“I’ve put a lot of time in the weight room,” she said. “It’s paying off.”
Leading 3-2 in the first game, Linn-Mar broke it open with five runs — all unearned — in the bottom of the sixth inning thanks to four hits and three errors. Emily Koranda had a two-run double, and three errors by the Hawks (18-15, 15-11) played a role.
Linn-Mar got single tallies in the first, second and fifth innings of the nightcap and leaned on Koranda’s three-hit shutout.
Linn-Mar 8-3, Cedar Rapids Prairie 5-1
AT OAK RIDGE MIDDLE SCHOOL
C.R. Prairie 000 002 3 — 5 9 6
Linn-Mar 002 015 x — 8 11 0
Dani Klees and Jensyn Jones. Jordyn Beck and Madi Wells. W — Beck (15-2). L — Klees (10-7). HR — LM: Hannah Gralund (7).
C.R. Prairie 010 000 0 — 1 3 0
Linn-Mar 110 010 x — 3 10 0
Tatum Goerdt and Jensyn Jones. Emily Koranda and Madi Wells. W — Koranda (12-1). L — Goerdt (7-6).