MARION — Duanna Coyle is a doubles hitter. A gap hitter.
This time, the gap was over the fence.
Coyle’s two-run home run in the top of the eighth inning lifted Cedar Rapids Xavier past Marion, 4-2, in a Class 4A softball regional quarterfinal Thursday night at the Les Hipple Athletic Complex.
“I just wanted to hit the ball hard to drive a run in,” Coyle said. “When it went over the fence, yeah, I was surprised.”
Xavier pitcher Kennedy Oleson gathered herself after surrendering an early home run, allowing just one hit in the final five innings. As a result, the Saints (16-9) advance to face No. 2 West Delaware (19-4) in a regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Saturday at Manchester.
“This couldn’t have been a more exciting game,” Xavier Coach Nikki Gahring said. “Two talented teams, two evenly matched teams.
“Both of these teams deserve to be playing Saturday.”
Marion retired at 15-9. The Indians struck first on Jazlyn Krosskreutz’s two-run homer in the bottom of the first inning, but Oleson (10-3) — aided by an airtight outfield defense — held the Indians at bay the rest of the way.
“As the game went on, I kept feeling more comfortable,” said Oleson, who retired the side in order in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. “My catcher (Grace Zaugg) was calling great pitches for me.”
Twelve of Marion’s outs were fly-outs. Few of those plays were simply routine.
“They made some great defensive plays,” Marion Coach Scott Fruehling said. “I thought some of those hits were down, and if they were, it would have been a different ballgame.”
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Down 2-0 after Grosskreutz’s early laser, Xavier chipped away with a run in the third and another in the fifth.
Rylee Beardsworth started both rallies with a single, and both times Grace Zaugg sacrificed her to second.
Beardsworth scored on an error in the third and got under the tag in the fifth on a wild pitch, and it stayed 2-2 until the eighth.
With one out, Brielle Bastian singled, setting the stage for Coyle. And the freshman delivered with a liner to left that cleared the fence and extended the Saints’ season.
“I had a feeling she was going to hit it hard somewhere,” Gahring said. “She’s a line-drive hitter. A doubles hitter.
“Hitting it out ... that was an extra little blessing.”
CEDAR RAPIDS XAVIER 4, MARION 2 (8 innings)
Class 4A Regional Quarterfinal, at Marion
C.R. Xavier 001 010 02 — 4 9 0
Marion 200 000 00 — 2 5 1
Kennedy Oleson and Grace Zaugg. Megan Kessens and Peyton Johnson. W — Oleson (10-3). L — Kessens (9-4). HR — CRX: Duanna Coyle (1), M: Jazlyn Grosskreutz (1).
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