CEDAR RAPIDS — According to Jeff Kelley, his Iowa City Liberty softball team “is a hard one to get a read on.”
“We had a couple get away from us last week,” Kelley said. “The girls weren’t feeling very confident.”
Courtney Olson changed that with one swing of the bat.
Olson’s first-inning grand slam “was an icebreaker for us,” Kelley said, and Liberty swept Class 4A No. 10 Cedar Rapids Xavier, 8-4 and 11-10, in a Mississippi Valley Conference doubleheader Thursday night at Bob Erusha Field.
“It’s a really good feeling,” said Liberty’s Tiffany Jones, who collected three hits and drove in four runs in the nightcap as the Lightning (15-17 overall, 13-11 MVC) held on. “I was so nervous at the end, the adrenaline was really pumping.”
A seven-run fourth inning gave the Lightning a 9-5 lead in the nightcap, and it was 11-7 before the Saints (19-11, 14-10) came to bat for the last time.
Xavier got three runs and had the winning run at second base with one out, but a strikeout and a lineout finished it off.
“A big night for us,” Kelley said.
On the other hand, it was a messy night for the Saints. Making matters worse was an ankle injury to leadoff hitter Keera Ball, who hurt it while sliding into second base in finishing off her state-leading 18th double of the season.
Ball did not play in Game 2.
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Olson’s grand slam ignited the Lightning in the opener, and they built the advantage to 8-0 before Xavier tightened it somewhat late.
Xavier jumped to a 5-2 lead in the second game on the strength of Grace Zaugg’s three-run homer, but Liberty exploded in the fourth. The rally was capped by a two-run single by Miranda Jones and a two-run double by Tiffany Jones.
The teams could meet again here in a 4A regional semifinal July 13. Liberty plays at Washington (Iowa) in a quarterfinal July 11; Xavier has a first-round bye.
IOWA CITY LIBERTY 8-11, CEDAR RAPIDS XAVIER 4-10
At C.R. Xavier
Iowa City Liberty 403 001 0 — 8 11 0
C.R. Xavier 000 002 2 — 4 8 3
Kara Maiers and Tiffany Jones. Kennedy Oleson and Olivia Richards, Grace Zaugg (7). W — Maier (9-3). L — Oleson (10-5). HR — ICL: Courtney Olson (1), Miranda Jones (1).
Iowa City Liberty 002 702 0 — 11 11 6
C.R. Xavier 041 020 3 — 10 10 2
Kinsley Robertson and Blythe Geiman. Duanna Coyle, Kennedy Oleson (5) and Grace Zaugg. W — Robertson (5-8). L — Coyle (3-2). HR — CRX: Zaugg (1).
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