116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A hotly-contested twinbill between a pair of ranked rivals came down to a battle on the mound. A steady diet of Jenna Sprague was the recipe for Class 3A second-ranked Mount Vernon, as it swept a doubleheader over Class 3A eighth-ranked Solon, 1-0 and 6-2, Wednesday night at Busse Field in the Robert W. Plaster Athletic Complex.
“They’re big wins,” Mount Vernon head coach Robin Brand said. “Solon has always been a big rival for us, a team we get very fired up for, because they’re gonna be good competition year in and year out.”
Solon (20-8), which came into the night hitting .470 this season, saw its big bats quieted most of the night. Sprague changed speeds and had enough movement to keep the Spartans off-balance, preventing them from barreling up the ball, as the Mustangs (24-3) extended their lead in the Wamac East to four games over Solon and Marion.
“I felt pretty good,” Sprague said. “I started to get a little bit tired but I knew my defense had my back.”
“Jenna did exactly what she needed to do,” Brand said. “When Jenna’s asked to step up, she always does. She hits her spots, she throws well, she knows what she’s doing, and she was mentally engaged in the game.”
Sprague took a perfect game into the fifth of the opener. Monet Barnhouse broke up the no-hitter with a single to left, but the Spartans never put up a serious threat. Sprague struck out six and allowed just three hits on her way to the shutout.
After walking 23 and striking out 87 as a sophomore, in 100.1 innings as a junior, Sprague’s numbers have exploded, striking out 151 while issuing just eight free passes.
“(Sprague has) worked really hard in the offseason,” Brand said. “She’s worked hard at strength and conditioning, she’s worked hard with her pitching coach, she’s worked hard with our team, she’s been a leader.”
Game 2 saw Sprague dial down on the dominance, but her gritty effort was more than enough to lead the Mustangs. Sprague scattered 10 hits, giving up two runs while working out of third, fifth and sixth-inning jams.
“The second game, we had a little bit of a low,” Sprague said. “We came back with the runs.”
In the bottom of the third, Sprague broke open a 1-1 tie with a two-run double and Mount Vernon never looked back.
Sprague’s masterful Game 1 performance spoiled a great effort from Solon freshman Kendall Jensen.
Maia Bentley was hit by a pitch and scored on a three-base throwing error in the top of the first. It was the game’s only run as Jensen settled in, allowing just four Mount Vernon hits in a tough-luck loss.