116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Senior Night? This was Spoiler Night.
Madie Denlinger capped a zany second game with an inside-the-park two-run home run, and Cedar Rapids Jefferson shocked Class 4A second-ranked Western Dubuque, 5-3 and 12-11, in a Mississippi Valley Conference softball doubleheader Thursday night at Larry Niemeyer Field.
“It was a high pitch, and I got right on it,” said Denlinger, a sophomore who reached base all five times she batted in the nightcap. “I felt that I hit it pretty good, and once I rounded first and I saw it got over the outfielder’s head, I just kept going.”
Thursday’s outcome puts Iowa City High in the driver’s seat in the MVC Mississippi Division race, which Western Dubuque had led all season. The Little Hawks have a one-game lead and will be champions if they can sweep winless Cedar Rapids Washington on Monday.
Jefferson (23-12, 19-9 MVC) continues a late-season surge; the J-Hawks have won eight of their last 10 games.
“We talked all year about hitting our stride,” J-Hawks Coach Mike Kuba said. “The girls have done that for the past 2 1/2 weeks.
“The first game, there were a lot of pick-me-up moments. And that continued into the second game.”
Denlinger had the last one.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Aliyah Walker struck out but reached on a wild pitch. Then on a 2-2 count, Denlinger delivered and raced around the bases.
And thus ended a back-and-forth affair in which the J-Hawks prevailed despite eight errors. Pick-me-up moments.
With two solid pitchers, Western Dubuque (28-6, 23-5) hadn’t been swept all summer. Until Thursday.
Credit Jefferson’s aggressiveness on the basepaths. The J-Hawks stole 18 bases, including 11 in Game 2.
In the opener, the J-Hawks took the lead for good, 3-2, in the second inning, then they got a couple of insurance runs in the fifth on RBI hits from Skyler Phelps and Calley Gralund.
Jefferson trailed 3-0 in the nightcap, then took an 8-4 lead with a four-run fourth inning. Western Dubuque immediately tied it, then the J-Hawks went back up, 10-8, on a couple of errors in the fifth.
The Bobcats reclaimed the lead, 11-10, in the sixth, but Denlinger had the final word, the first home run of her varsity career.
“This feels really good,” she said. “A lot of people underestimated us.”
CEDAR RAPIDS JEFFERSON 5-12, WESTERN DUBUQUE 3-11
At C.R. Jefferson
Western Dubuque 110 001 0 -- 3 9 3
C.R. Jefferson 210 020 x -- 5 8 4
Sydney Kennedy and Isabel Ernzen. Shandi Rulli and Rhiana Briney. W -- Rulli (10-5). L -- Kennedy (13-4).
Western Dubuque 031 043 0 -- 11 12 4
C.R. Jefferson 022 420 2 -- 12 8 8
Meredith Hoerner and Isabel Ernzen. Morgan Hewitt, Shandi Rulli (6) and Rhiana Briney. W -- Rulli (11-5). L -- Hoerner (15-2). HR -- CRJ: Madie Denlinger (1).