Prep Softball

Abby Spore 'a wall' behind the plate for Cedar Rapids Kennedy softball

Junior catcher drives in 5 runs as 5A No. 4 Cougars sweep Cedar Rapids Jefferson in pair of routs

Cedar Rapids Kennedy's Abby Spore (21) drives a pitch during a high school softball game last season. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Kennedy's Abby Spore (21) drives a pitch during a high school softball game last season. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — This season, the Cedar Rapids Kennedy softball team has won seven games in which it scored a mere two runs or fewer.

With the postseason just a couple of weeks away, the Cougars’ offense appears ready to provide its pitchers ample run support.

“I think we did really well,” Kennedy junior catcher Abby Spore said after driving in five runs for the Class 5A fourth-ranked Cougars in a Mississippi Valley Conference doubleheader sweep of Cedar Rapids Jefferson, 9-0 and 13-1 in four innings, Wednesday at Kennedy High School. “Our bats came alive today and that was a good sign. We have been working hard on them. Really pleased overall. Defense, offense, everything.”

Spore bats cleanup in the Kennedy lineup behind Nebraska commit Kaylin Kinney, the recipient of 36 intentional walks this season. With a 3-for-4 performance in the doubleheader, Spore is now hitting .400 and leads the Cougars with 34 RBIs this season — two numbers that might give some opponents pause when considering whether to allow Kinney a free pass.

“You make them pay,” Spore said. “I know it is not easy for her to get walked all the time. You kind of just do it for her. It also helps the team getting the runners around, but when she walks there is always a person on base. That means another RBI, another bat around. Just do it for the team. Do it for her.”

Behind the plate, Spore continues to improve in all facets of her defensive game. She threw out a potential base stealer, made a nice catch of a pop-up against the backstop and provides a good target for Kinney and Jayme Scheck, Kennedy’s all-state hurlers.

“She works with them all offseason, so that is a necessity,” Kennedy Coach Maddison LeClere said. “That is a must. But she has developed so much, even from last year, in the way that she moves and her speed and quickness and transition. That is what we have had to have and that is what we challenged her in the offseason and she fully embraced that.”

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Kinney (14-0) and Scheck (12-2) both picked up wins in the circle for Kennedy (26-2, 21-1 MVC), winner of six games in a row. Kinney and fellow junior Mary Krystofiak homered in Game 1, while junior Alyssa Martin keyed a 10-run, game-clinching fourth inning with a three-run double in the nightcap.

Lindsey Culver homered off Scheck in Game 2 for Jefferson (15-15, 13-9).

Prep softball

At Cedar Rapids Kennedy

Class 5A No. 4 Cedar Rapids Kennedy 9-13, Cedar Rapids Jefferson 0-1 (2nd, 4)

Game 1

C.R. Jefferson 000 000 0 — 0 5 1

C.R. Kennedy 011 043 x — 9 9 0

Shandi Rulli and Hannah Markham. Kaylin Kinney and Abby Spore. W — Kinney (14-0). L — Rulli (8-7). HR — Mary Krystofiak (2), Kinney (12).

Game 2

C.R. Jefferson 100 0 — 1 2 1

C.R. Kennedy 102 (10) — 13 7 0

Hannah Dauenbaugh, Shandi Rulli, Lindsey Culver and Hannah Markham. Jayme Scheck and Abby Spore. W — Scheck (12-2). L — Daughenbaugh (6-7). HR — CRJ: Lindsey Culver (10).

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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