Prep Softball

Kennedy handles Pleasant Valley, reaches 5A state softball semifinals

Early homers stake Cougars to 4-0 lead, then they tack on 6 in the 6th after PV gets close

FORT DODGE — Kaylin Kinney’s remarkable shutout streak has come to an end.

But the only streak that really matters, that one’s alive and well.

Second-ranked Cedar Rapids Kennedy struck for three early home runs, then after things got tight, the Cougars tallied six times in the bottom of the sixth inning and topped No. 9 Pleasant Valley, 10-4, in a Class 5A quarterfinal at the state softball tournament Monday afternoon at the Rogers Sports Complex.

“That was a huge boost,” Kinney said. “We knew we had to put more runs on the board.”

The Cougars (24-1) won their 17th consecutive game and advance to face No. 8 Muscatine (19-2) in a semifinal at 11 a.m. Wednesday on Kruger Field. The Muskies tripped No. 3 West Des Moines Valley — the defending champion — by a 3-1 verdict.

It was a much happier first-round experience than last year, when the Cougars were drubbed by Iowa City High.

“Like I said before we left, if we were going to make the trip, we’ve got to make it a memorable one,” Kennedy Coach Maddison LeClere said. “It’s one at a time; win and move on.”

Kinney hit a solo home run — a bomb to center field of about 250 feet — in the bottom of the first inning. Keaton Gerber added a laser to right in the second and Mya Dodge poked a two-run shot in the third to make it 4-0.

“The team really backs me up and it helped me focus,” Gerber said. “When I’m focused, I hit the ball well.”

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Dodge said, “We laid off the riseballs. We were looking down and inside, and we were just attacking.”

Kinney (10-0) entered the game with a 51-inning scoreless streak, and it reached 54 1/3 before Pleasant Valley (17-7) snapped it with a run in the fourth. The Spartans scored two more in the sixth to get within 4-3.

“It wasn’t my best game, but I was able to stay calm and trust the process,” said Kinney, whose ERA climbed to a still-miniscule 0.37.

The Cougars went back to work offensively, taking advantage of three sixth-inning walks. The third, coaxed by Alyssa Martin on a full count, drove in an insurance run. Then Kinney singled home two runs, Dodge doubled in another and Abby Spore plated two more with a single. That made it 10-3, and the Cougars were set.

“We wanted to get it back on offense and put a crooked number up there,” LeClere said.

A University of Nebraska signee, Kinney was 3-for-4, raising her season batting average to .625. Dodge matched her with three RBIs.

CEDAR RAPIDS KENNEDY 10, PLEASANT VALLEY 4

Class 5A State Quarterfinal, at Fort Dodge

Pleasant Valley 000 102 1 — 4 6 0

C.R. Kennedy 112 006 x — 10 10 0

Sophia Lindquist, Christin Hartman (2), Miah Townsend (6) and Peggy Klingler. Kaylin Kinney, Jayme Scheck (7) and Abby Spore. W — Kinney (10-0). L — Lindquist (10-3). HR — PV: Kaitlyn Drish (5), CRK: Kinney (10), Keaton Gerber (5), Mya Dodge (8).

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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