SOLON — You knew Grace Martensen had immense athletic talent.
Now you know this: She has guts, too.
“She’s an absolutely fierce competitor,” Benton Community Coach Eric Stenberg said after the Bobcats tripped 10th-ranked Solon, 4-2, in a Class 3A softball regional semifinal Friday night at the Solon Athletic Complex. “She said before the game that she’s been looking forward to this for the last two years.
Martensen, a junior and one of the best track-and-field athletes in the state, moved from left field to the pitcher’s circle and allowed one hit in 6 1/3 innings of relief. That, and a two-run, go-ahead double by Makenna Bonewitz, allowed the Bobcats (26-14) to advance.
They’ll face No. 6 Eddyville EBF (30-7) — last year’s 2A state runner-up — in a regional final Monday at Eddyville. The winner advances to the state tournament.
Trailing 2-1 in the fifth, the Bobcats made their winning push. Shelby Hulsebus, the state’s leading hitter, singled with out and stole second. Angie Gorkow reached on an error and Martensen hit an infield single to load the bases.
Bonewitz sent a 1-0 pitch into the left-field corner to score two runs, then Martensen scored on a sacrifice bunt by Megan Gorkow to put the Bobcats up, 4-2.
“I knew I had a chance to score my teammates,” Bonewitz said. “I got an inside pitch, and that’s my favorite pitch to hit.”
Martensen came in to pitch with two outs in the bottom of the first, with the game tied 1-1 and the bases loaded.
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“I figured I would come in at some point, maybe the third or fourth inning,” she said. “I knew I had to come in and shut them down. I did what I always do — take a deep breath before every pitch.”
Solon (27-9) tallied on an error in the fourth to take a 2-1 lead, but the Spartans didn’t score again. They loaded the bases with two outs, but Martensen got Taylor Moore to line out to right field to end it.
The teams traded runs in the first inning. Skyler Stookey homered for the Spartans. She was intentionally walked in each of her next three plate appearances.
BENTON COMMUNITY 4, SOLON 2
Class 3A Regional Semifinal, at Solon
Benton Community 100 030 0 — 4 7 1
Solon 100 100 0 — 2 3 2
Kate Buscher, Grace Martensen (1) and Brielle Hogan, Jaden Thys (5). Kayla West and Skyler Stookey. W — Martensen (13-9). L — West (19-4). HR — Stookey (10).
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