ALBURNETT — Fear isn’t a good emotion at the plate.
“We were a little scared when we went up to bat, and you can’t be scared,” Kaylin Kinney said.
Pleasant Valley’s Ellie Spelhaug pitched 6 2/3 perfect innings, and the Class 5A second-ranked Spartans made a third-inning scratch run stand up in a 1-0 triumph over No. 1 Cedar Rapids Kennedy in the showcase game of the Linn-Mar/Alburnett Softball Classic on Saturday at the Martin Sports Complex.
“My coach (Jose Lara) called a great game. He really knew their batters,” said Spelhaug, who will play basketball at Bradley University next winter.
“He had me move the ball on ‘the river,’ just off the plate. And my teammates made some nice plays behind me.”
Spelhaug (12-2) retired the first 20 batters she faced before Kinney singled with two strikes and two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“It was a dropball that didn’t drop,” said Spelhaug, who then forced Abby Spore to ground out to end the 73-minute dandy. “That one’s on me.”
Pleasant Valley (20-6) is the defending 5A state champion while Kennedy (20-4) was the third-place team. This was projected as a likely championship game when the original 16-team tournament brackets were drawn up for this weekend, but midweek rain forced a change of format into a one-day, two-site classic.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
“I’m glad we still got to play them,” Kennedy’s Ashley Winterowd said. “Hopefully, we’ll see them again (at state).”
Spelhaug struck out six and coaxed 15 groundouts.
“She throws hard,” Winterowd said. “I think she intimidated us at first. We weren’t confident at the plate.”
The difference, ultimately, was a 10-foot squibber that Carli Spelhaug legged out for a single with two outs in the top of the third. She then stole second base and scored on Emily Wood’s sharp single to center.
Kinney (11-2) then retired the final 13 batters she faced and finished with a three-hitter in defeat. She struck out six and — like Spelhaug — walked none.
“Both teams got good pitching and flawless defense,” Kinney said. “What we lacked was our hitting. I don’t know what was going on, because we’ve been relying on our bats lately.
“But I love when we play ranked teams like this, and this will absolutely be good for us.”
PLEASANT VALLEY 1, CEDAR RAPIDS KENNEDY 0
Pleasant Valley 001 000 0 — 1 3 0
C.R. Kennedy 000 000 0 — 0 1 0
Ellie Spelhaug and Peggy Klinger. Kaylin Kinney and Abby Spore. W — Spelhaug (12-2). L — Kinney (11-2).
l Comments: (319) 368-8857; firstname.lastname@example.org