CEDAR RAPIDS — Unforgettable game.
And for the Kennedy Cougars, a muted celebration.
Mya Dodge’s sky-high fly ball to left field was dropped with two outs in the 11th inning, and that enabled second-ranked Cedar Rapids Kennedy to escape Iowa City Liberty, 1-0, in a Class 5A softball regional final Tuesday night at Kennedy High School.
The Cougars (23-1) won their 16th consecutive game — eighth straight via shutout — and advance to the state tournament for the third time in four years.
They will face No. 9 Pleasant Valley (17-6) in a quarterfinal at 12:30 Monday afternoon at the Rogers Sports Complex, Fort Dodge.
Many of the key players are frequent Fort Dodge visitors. Dodge will be making her first trip, but she was somewhat somber in the aftermath.
“We had a lot of opportunities,” she said. “I had a lot of at bats, and I didn’t adjust.”
As for the last play?
“I wasn’t watching the ball,” she said. “I was just running.”
Both pitchers were masterful. Kaylin Kinney (9-0) stretched her scoreless streak to 51 innings this season, scattering five hits — three to Brylee Klosterman.
Kinney struck out eight and walked none.
“Obviously, I’m a little fatigued,” she said. “I knew I had to do this for the team. We came here and achieved our mission.”
Liberty’s Kara Maiers (10-3) was just as effective, fanning 10 and walking six. She allowed seven hits.
“She did everything we could ever ask her to do,” Liberty Coach Jeff Kelley said. “Maybe the sixth inning, she lost the touch on her riseball, so it was just fastballs and changeups the rest of the way.
“It was just two outstanding pitchers going at it.”
Maiers threw 180 pitches, Kinney 153.
Alyssa Martin started Kennedy’s winning rally with a one-out single; it was her fourth time on base. Addie Parker’s groundout advanced Martin to second, and Kinney was intentionally walked.
Up stepped Dodge, and the Cougars caught a break on the fly ball.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Kennedy Coach Maddison LeClere. “But in all aspects of the game, I don’t think we could have done any better tonight, and I don’t think they could have, either.”
Like Dodge said, the Cougars had prior opportunities, but stranded 13 runners in the first 10 innings before breaking through in the 11th.
Liberty (17-9) suffered a regional-final heartbreak for the second straight year.
CEDAR RAPIDS KENNEDY 1, IOWA CITY LIBERTY 0 (11)
Class 5A Regional Final, at C.R. Kennedy
I.C. Liberty 000 000 000 00 — 0 5 3
C.R. Kennedy 000 000 000 01 — 1 7 1
Kara Maiers and Mischa Reiners. Kaylin Kinney and Abby Spore. W — Kinney (9-0). L — Maiers (10-3).
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