116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MOUNT VERNON — It’s new. It’s beautiful. And it’s spacious.
But Van Metre Family Softball Field wasn’t spacious enough to contain Maia Bentley.
Overcoming the park’s deep dimensions — and a breeze that was blowing in — Bentley crushed her eighth home run of the year. The three-run shot helped push second-ranked Mount Vernon past Center Point-Urbana, 8-0, in a Class 3A softball regional quarterfinal Tuesday evening.
“Sometimes you get that pitch that is right down the middle,” Bentley said. “That one felt really good.”
How good? How about 235 feet?
Mount Vernon (32-4) scored three runs in the first inning, then added three more on Bentley’s blast in the second. That was more than enough to send the Mustangs to the second round.
They’ll host Independence (18-24) in a regional semifinal at 5 p.m. Friday.
“That was a nice, solid win,” Mustangs Coach Robin Brand said. “That’s a nice team we beat, a team that has gotten better.”
The Mustangs handled CPU (14-21) in a regular-season doubleheader, 9-0 and 12-0. This was more of the same.
Jenna Sprague pitched a four-hit shutout, striking out 10.
“I know my defense has my back all the time, and I know that no matter where I place the ball, it’s going to move,” said Sprague (23-2), whose ERA dipped to 1.12. “I knew we could handle them. We did well against them (in the regular season).”
The artificial-turf Van Metre facility is a gem that will lend itself more to gappers than homers; the dimensions are 200 feet down the lines, 220 to center field.
But with two on and one out in the bottom of the second, Bentley got ahold of one that sailed into the teeth of a southerly breeze and landed well beyond the fence in center.
It was the first Van Metre home run.
“I really like the field. We’re still getting a feel for it,” Bentley said. “It’s definitely an advantage. I love running the bases.”
A home-run trot is OK, too.
Mount Vernon struck immediatelty. With one out in the bottom of the first, Bentley singled and Lauren Ryan walked. Sprague singled home one run, then — one out later — Ashlyn Steen hit a two-run single to make it 3-0.
CPU got a runner to second base on three occasions, but that was as close as the Stormin’ Pointers came to scoring against Sprague.
The Mustangs tacked on a pair of unearned runs in the sixth.
Bentley, Sprague and Steen had three hits apiece for the winners. Bentley and Nadia Telecky scored twice apiece.
MOUNT VERNON 8, CENTER POINT-URBANA 0
Class 3A Regional Quarterfinal, at Mount Vernon
Center Point-Urbana 000 000 0 — 0 4 3
Mount Vernon 330 002 x — 8 8 2
Olivia Perez, Nicole Coppess (6) and Grace Hoskins. Jenna Sprague and Kenna Rollinger. W — Sprague (23-2). L — Perez (6-10). HR — MV: Maia Bentley (8).