116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Mya Dodge got jammed. The scuff on her bat handle was evidence.
And that left Dodge as surprised as anyone that the ball left the park.
“I thought it was foul, or it was going to be caught,” she said.
Instead, it was fair. And it was gone.
Dodge’s first-inning home run — her 14th of the season — proved to be the difference as eighth-ranked Cedar Rapids Kennedy edged Cedar Rapids Jefferson, 1-0, in a Class 5A softball regional final Tuesday night at Kennedy High School.
“All I’ve been saying the last couple of days was that we just needed to score one more run than the other team,” Kennedy Coach Maddison LeClere said. “I didn’t know they would take it so literally.”
The reigning 5A state champion, Kennedy (28-9) returns to pursue another crown. The Cougars will face No. 7 Waukee (32-10) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Rogers Sports Complex, Fort Dodge.
It will be the third straight year the Cougars’ season ends in Fort Dodge, and the fourth time in five years.
This was the first time in that span that Jayme Scheck (21-4) was the Cougars’ regional-final starting pitcher. She was up to the challenge, tossing a three-hit shutout, striking out 10 and walking one.
“I was just trusting my defense,” Scheck said. “I was a little nervous, but I knew as long as I stayed calm, I was in control of the game.”
Jefferson starter Shandi Rulli (13-7) was nearly as effective, allowing just four hits. But Dodge’s dinger was the difference.
It wasn’t the Cougars’ hardest hit ball of the night; Keaton Gerber lined a long single off the right-field fence right after Dodge’s homer, and Dodge had a long fly ball to right in the fifth inning that Jefferson’s Madie Denlinger hauled in at the fence.
But it was the one that counted. The money hit.
It landed about a foot over the fence, about three feet inside the left-field foul pole.
Jefferson finished 26-15, a nice bounce-back season after two consecutive losing campaigns.
“I’m proud of our effort,” J-Hawks Coach Mike Kuba said. “I’m proud of the way the kids battled all year long. Tonight, that’s what a regional final should be.”
The J-Hawks had one big opportunity. Taylor Robinson singled to lead off the fourth inning, then stole second and moved to third when the throw went into center field.
But Scheck got a strikeout, a pop-up bunt and another strikeout to keep the Cougars in front.
An insurance run never came.
“I was telling them the whole time, a couple more would be nice,” Scheck said.
But one ultimately was enough. And the Cougars are returning to Fort Dodge.
“We’re a different team than last year,” Dodge said. “We graduated a lot of good players. But we definitely have the players that can step up and get the job done, do what we need to do.”
CEDAR RAPIDS KENNEDY 1, CEDAR RAPIDS JEFFERSON 0
Class 5A Regional Final, at C.R. Kennedy
C.R. Jefferson 000 000 0 -- 0 3 0
C.R. Kennedy 100 000 x -- 1 4 1
Shandi Rulli and Rhiana Briney. Jayme Scheck and Addy Alber. W -- Scheck (21-4). L -- Rulli (13-7). HR -- CRK: Mya Dodge (14).