CEDAR RAPIDS — Reliable records only go back so far.
So we’ll leave it at this: It’s been a long time. Years. Decades.
Class 5A top-ranked Cedar Rapids Kennedy erupted for 10 unearned runs in the top of the eighth inning of the first game, and went on to sweep No. 5 Cedar Rapids Jefferson, 11-1 and 4-1, in a Mississippi Valley Conference softball doubleheader Thursday night at Larry Niemeyer Field.
“We might have made history,” Kennedy Coach Maddison LeClere said, understanding the rarity of the Cougars’ accomplishment. “It’s nice to see us play two good games the way we did.”
This has historically been a Jefferson-dominated rivalry, but the Cougars earned splits in 2016 and 2017. Thursday, they took another step forward.
“A sweep feels really good,” said Camryn Jeffords, who was 5-for-8 Thursday, including a two-run double in that fateful eighth. “We’ve wanted this for a long time.”
The opener was tied 1-1 through seven well-played innings, then Kennedy (25-5 overall, 19-1 MVC) parlayed five hits and five Jefferson errors into a gigantic inning.
“You wouldn’t believe this, but we had the best defensive practice of the season this morning,” J-Hawks Coach Brian Erbe said. “I never would have guessed we would have kicked the ball around like we did in the eighth inning.”
It started with one out, when Natalie Blank and Addison Parker reached on errors, then Ashley Winterowd singled to load the bases. That left Erbe no choice but to pitch to Kaylin Kinney, whom he had intentionally passed the first three times up.
Kinney hit an infield single to put the Cougars in front, and the onslaught was underway.
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Lindsey Culver gave the J-Hawks (27-7, 16-6) a 1-0 lead with a first-inning home run, then Kennedy tied it in the fourth on Abby Spore’s bad-hop triple, which followed one of the intentional walks to Kinney.
Both teams managed just two hits through the first seven innings.
Kennedy led the nightcap from start to finish. Spore and Jeffords rapped back-to-back RBI singles for a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Kai Johnson added a run-scoring hit in the third, Jayme Scheck another in the fifth.
For the Cougars, Thursday started an end-of-the-regular-season push in which they play 11 games in six days.
“We’ll take one at a time and take lots of Ibuprofen,” Jeffords said. “We’ll focus on what’s right in front of us. That seems to work best.”
CEDAR RAPIDS KENNEDY 11-4, CEDAR RAPIDS JEFFERSON 1-1 (1st, 8)
At C.R. Jefferson
C.R. Kennedy 000 100 0(10) — 11 7 2
C.R. Jefferson 100 000 00 — 1 3 6
Kaylin Kinney and Abby Spore. Erica Oler and Hannah Markham. W — Kinney (12-2). L — Oler (19-4). HR — CRJ: Lindsey Culver (5).
C.R. Kennedy 201 010 0 — 4 11 1
C.R. Jefferson 000 000 1 — 1 5 1
Jayme Scheck and Abby Spore. Erica Oler and Hannah Markham. W — Scheck (12-2). L — Oler (19-5).
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