116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Scott Fruehling lifted his daughter in favor of a pinch-hitter in a clutch spot.
Did he anticipate an earful upon his arrival home?
“Nah,” he said. “I couldn’t be prouder of her reaction. We’ve done it before.”
Done it with success. And Megan Kessens delivered again.
Kessens’ two-run double in the bottom of the fourth inning snapped a 2-2 tie in the first game, and Class 4A 15th-ranked Marion went on to sweep a Wamac Conference softball doubleheader from No. 4 Benton Community 4-2 and 5-2 Wednesday night at Mount Mercy University’s Busse Field.
The Indians (13-3, 8-2 Wamac) have won seven consecutive games.
“A lot depends on our energy,” Kessens said. “The games we’ve lost, our energy has been down. When the energy is up, we get more done.”
Benton (6-4, 4-4) has more hits in both games (the margin was 9-6 in the first, 7-4 in the second), but the Indians had the clutch hit both times.
It was Kessens in the opener, then Peyton Johnson hit a two-run triple in the bottom of the sixth in Game 2 with the Indians holding a 3-2 edge.
“Confidence is key,” Johnson said. “I was hoping for a line drive to one of the gaps.”
Despite giving up nine hits, Kessens (8-3) earned the pitching win in the opener, then came on in relief in the fifth inning to notch the save in Game 2.
“When they start to hit, I’ll come in and get ’em down,” she said.
So here’s the sequence on Kessens’ key moment at the plate. She didn’t bat, but was in the order in the flex position while pitching. Leah Fruehling was hitting ninth.
Even though Leah got a hit — an infield single — in her first plate appearance, Coach Fruehling opted for Kessens.
“We have a good culture, so I wasn’t too worried about it,” he said. “Plus, Megan is 4-for-4 in those situations this year.”
Peyton Steffen and Maddie Steffen set the table with a walk and a single.
Marion scored a pair of runs in the first inning, then Benton drew even with a tally in the second and another in the fourth on RBI hits by Brielle Hogan and Emma Townsley.
The Bobcats struck first in Game 2, scoring twice in the top of the first. Marion took a 3-2 lead in the second, powered by a two-run single by Maddie Steffen. That’s how it stayed until Johnson’s triple in the sixth.
Benton has dropped four straight after a 6-0 start.
MARION 4-5, BENTON COMMUNITY 2-2
At Mount Mercy College
Benton Community 010 100 0 — 2 9 3
Marion 200 200 x — 4 6 1
Katelyn Buscher and Brielle Hogan. Megan Kessens and Peyton Johnson. W — Kessens (8-3). L — Buscher (4-1).
Benton Community 200 000 0 — 2 7 1
Marion 030 002 x — 5 4 1
Hope Moore, Katelyn Buscher (6) and Gabby McKee. Haley Slaymaker, Megan Kessens (5) and Peyton Johnson. W — Slaymaker (5-0). L — Moore (2-1). SV — Kessens (1).