CEDAR RAPIDS — The Cedar Rapids Kennedy softball team has used two things to reach 36-2 and a No. 3 ranking in the final Class 5A poll.
“The defense and pitching have been the heart and soul of this team all year,” Coach Maddison LeClere said after Saturday night’s 4-0 win over Waterloo West in a regional semifinal. “The team stays very poised no matter what the situation.”
The Cougars jumped out front in the first inning with all four of their runs. Mary Krystofiak plated two runs with a triple after Abby Spore and Izzy Wright put Kennedy up 2-0.
That was all the offense needed for Jayme Scheck, who struck out 10 in her six innings of work.
“Pitching and defense has been strong for us all year” Scheck said. “Now we must back it up with our bats.”
The Wahawks’ only threat for a run came in the top of the fifth inning when Brianna McPoland hit a two-out single to load the bases. The next batter, however, was the victim of one Scheck’s 10 strikeouts.
Kennedy now has won its last 16 games and has allowed only four runs during the streak. The Cougars have pitched four straight shutouts and have not allowed a run since a 7-1 win over Iowa City Liberty on July 8.
The night ended with Kennedy junior Kaylin Kinney receiving the 2018-19 Gatorade softball player of the year honor.
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A junior, Kinney is 54-6 in her career with an ERA of 0.75. She also has 44 home runs, 151 RBIs and a batting average of .495.
“It feels amazing and I could not have accomplished this without all of my teammates,” she said.
Kennedy will host Cedar Rapids Prairie on Tuesday in a regional final. The Hawks beat Dubuque Senior, 14-4, Saturday night.
Waterloo West ends its season at 6-32.
In other 5A games Saturday night, Iowa City High advanced to the regional finals with a 5-4 win over Davenport West.
Linn-Mar lost to No. 11 Dubuque Hempstead, 6-0, and Cedar Rapids Jefferson was taken down by No. 7 Muscatine, 8-0