Prep Softball

10-run 3rd inning sends Liberty past No. 15 Prairie in regional softball semifinals

Lightning will face No. 2 Kennedy for a state-tournament berth Tuesday

NORTH LIBERTY — Go ahead.

Break out all of your cheesy cliches about “Lightning” and “striking.” They all apply.

Iowa City Liberty erupted for 10 runs in the bottom of the third inning and pounded 15th-ranked Cedar Rapids Prairie, 12-0, in a four-inning Class 5A softball regional semifinal Saturday night at Liberty High School.

“We were on tonight,” leadoff hitter Brylee Klosterman said. “Everyone was hitting. It wasn’t just a couple of kids.”

It truly was everybody.

Locked in a scoreless stalemate through two innings, Liberty (17-8) went crazy in the third. The first nine batters reached base — seven hits and two walks.

In the blink of an eye, a nail-biter turned into a rout.

“We played the way we had prepared,” Liberty Coach Jeff Kelley said. “We knew we were going to see a lot of slow stuff away. The kids had to be patient. Then, after we started hitting that, the ball starting coming over the plate.”

And the Lightning crushed it.

It started with a leadoff double by Raquel Trolliet. Kylie Hamers walked and Klosterman singled to load the bases.

Miranda Jones’ single plated the first run. Mischa Reiners doubled home two more. Kinsley Robertson’s single made it 5-0, and the Lightning were only halfway done with their damage.

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Haley Napoli chased home a pair of runs with a single. Then, after an error made it 8-0, Hamers capped the onslaught with a dream-come-true home run, her first of the season.

“I woke up this morning and realized it was regionals, first round,” Hamers said. “I had a dream that Coach told me to go hit, and I told myself, ‘This is for Dad,’ and hit a home run.

“My dad (Kevin), he’s the one who always catches for me when I’m pitching. He’s the one in the family that loves the game like I do. So I hit it for him.”

Liberty advances to Tuesday’s regional final at No. 2 Cedar Rapids Kennedy (22-1). The Cougars dispatched Dubuque Senior, 7-0, Saturday.

If the Lightning match the all-around level of play they showed Saturday, though, they can be a major headache. For anybody.

Liberty tacked on two runs in the bottom of the fourth to enforce the mercy rule.

A dozen runs is more than enough when you have an ace like Kara Maiers. The junior struck out the first seven batters she faced and finished a four-inning nine-strikeout one-hitter.

“The riseball has really helped me this season,” said Maiers, who improved to 10-2. “I have a lot of confidence in it.

“I was prepared for a really close game, and for the first two innings, it looked like that was how it was going to be. After the third, not so much.”

Prairie retired at 12-8.

IOWA CITY LIBERTY 12, CEDAR RAPIDS PRAIRIE 0 (4 innings)

Class 5A Regional Semifinal, at North Liberty

C.R. Prairie 000 0 — 0 1 0

Iowa City Liberty 00(10) 2 — 12 13 0

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Megan Steffens, Abbey Ealy (3), Gabby Robinson (3) and Jensyn Jones. Kara Maiers and Mischa Reiners. W — Maiers (10-2). L — Steffens (5-4). HR — ICL: Kylie Hamers (1).

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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