MARION — Maybe they’re a surprise to you. But the Linn-Mar Lions aren’t shocking themselves.
Charli Patten singled with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Lions their 12th win in their last 13 games, 4-3 over Cedar Rapids Jefferson in the first game of a Mississippi Valley Conference softball doubleheader Tuesday night at Oak Ridge Middle School.
“I like to create an atmosphere of expectations,” first-year coach Lindsey Murray said. “That’s something I’ve always had as a Lion. I don’t see us as a surprise. We have a good group of girls here.”
The second game was suspended in the bottom of the fifth inning of a tie game, 1-1. It will be resumed at 5:30 p.m. next Tuesday.
Patten was one of three Linn-Mar seniors (joining Carly Rima and Ciera Hansen) honored between the games.
Rima opened the bottom of the seventh by reaching on an error and was sacrificed to second by Gennah Sanchez. Rae Van Milligan was issued an intentional walk, then Patten delivered with a long drive to the right-field wall.
“I’m not going to lie; I was struggling at the plate,” Patten said. “I just needed to wait on the pitch, wait on it. It was a little inside, then I just took it.”
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
The surging Lions improved to 23-8 overall, 19-6 in the MVC. Patten came through late, and the infield defense — particularly Hansen at shortstop — sparkled throughout.
“We’ve spent a lot of time on our defense,” Murray said. “And they’ve stepped up defensively at the right time of the season.”
The first game was back and forth, with Linn-Mar striking first of Sanchez’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first inning.
RBI hits by Alex Smith and Lindsey Culver put Jefferson (16-17, 14-11) up 2-1 in the top of the third, then the Lions answered right back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third. An error played a key role, then Van Milligan singled home the go-ahead run.
Aliyah Walker’s single in the top of the seventh made it 3-3, then Patten and the Lions had the final say.
Patten homered in the bottom of the fifth of Game 2 to tie it.
“I got ahead 2-0 in the count, So I figured she would throw me a strike,” Patten said. “If she did, I was going to swing at it.”
LINN-MAR 4-1, CEDAR RAPIDS JEFFERSON 3-1 (Game 2 suspended, bottom 5th)
At Oak Ridge Middle School
C.R. Jefferson 002 000 1 — 3 7 2
Linn-Mar 102 000 1 — 4 8 1
(One out when winning run scored)
Shandi Rulli and Hannah Markham. Madison Beard and Charli Patten. W — Beard (9-5). L — Rulli (9-9).
C.R. Jefferson 000 01x x — 1 5 0
Linn-Mar 000 01x x — 1 2 0
Lindsey Culver and Rhiana Briney. Hannah Gralund and Charli Patten. HR — LM: Patten (2).
l Comments: (319) 368-8857; email@example.com