CEDAR RAPIDS — Anybody see that coming?
“No,” Iowa City Liberty Coach Jeff Kelley said.
He shook his head and chuckled.
Liberty exploded for eight runs in the first inning — all with two outs — and disposed of 11th-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier in five innings, 11-0, in a Class 4A softball regional semifinal Saturday night at Bob Erusha Field.
“Honestly, I thought it would be an intense, close game,” said Liberty junior outfielder Brylee Klosterman, who capped the early onslaught with a three-run home run. “Any time you play a team a third time, anything can happen.”
And in the first inning Saturday, everything happened.
Xavier nearly got out of the inning with no runs allowed, but Tiffany Jones’ liner to right field dropped in for a two-run single.
For the Lightning (21-21), it was the start of something big.
An error scored another run. Mallory Jones’ double tackled on two more.
Then, with runners at second and third, Klosterman unloaded.
“She threw it high and inside,” the University of Iowa commit said. “It’s not my favorite pitch to hit, but I’ve been working on turning on it, and I barreled it up.”
The half-inning took nearly a half hour and featured eight runs (six unearned) on five hits and two errors.
“It changed the entire complexion of the game,” Kelley said. “Our kids did a fantastic job shortening their swings with two strikes.”
Kara Maiers and the Liberty defense took it from there, blanking the Saints on three hits.
“That first inning, I was in the dugout screaming my head off,” Maiers said. “And when Brylee hit that home run, I knew it was going to be a good night. You get a good lead like that, and there’s not as much stress.”
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The Lightning tacked on a run in the third and two in the fifth to put the mercy rule in play. Klosterman scored three times.
Liberty defeated the Saints (24-17) for the third time this season and advances to face No. 5 Independence in a regional final at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Indee (29-11) edged Marion, 1-0.
IOWA CITY LIBERTY 11, CEDAR RAPIDS XAVIER 0 (5)
4A Regional Semifinal, at C.R. Xavier
Iowa City Liberty 801 02 — 11 12 0
C.R. Xavier 000 00 — 0 3 4
Kara Maiers and Tiffany Jones. Mary Morrow, Kennedy Oleson (1), Morrow (3) and Grace Zaugg. W — Maiers (13-6). L — Morrow (9-7). HR — ICL: Brylee Klosterman (6).
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