Prep Softball

Marion edges CCA, gets another shot at Independence in regional softball tournament

Cloee Kraft's homer puts Indians ahead to stay, then they hold on

MARION — The seniors were Cloee Kraft’s incentive.

“It’s my best friends’ last season,” Kraft said. “We wanted to win for them and keep advancing.”

Kraft did more than her part, poking a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning as Marion edged Clear Creek Amana, 3-2, in a Class 4A softball regional quarterfinal Thursday night at the Les Hipple Athletic Complex.

And now, it’s on to Indee.

Marion (22-17) faces No. 5 Independence (28-11) in a regional semifinal Saturday at Independence. The Mustangs, who earned a first-round bye, eliminated the Indians in the regional finals last year, 7-5.

“I don’t think we were looking ahead, but I knew the girls were anxious to play Independence again,” Marion Coach Scott Fruehling said.

A junior shortstop, Kraft got an inside fastball and sent it over the scoreboard beyond the left-field fence. That followed Peyton Steffen’s one-out double and put the Indians on top, 2-0.

Jazlyn Grosskreutz doubled home courtesy runner Kylie Kramer in the third to make it 3-0.

But the Indians, who had seven hits in the first three innings, didn’t manage any more offense, and the Clippers (12-22) made them sweat at the end.

Ainsley Schrock’s two-run home run cut the margin to 3-2 in the fourth, then CCA had two runners on base in the sixth inning, then again in the seventh.

Freshman pitcher Megan Kessens shut the door, though, and the Indians advanced.

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Kessens (20-17) has pitched a state-high 232 1/3 innings this season. She struck out just one batter, but tossed an efficient two-hitter that featured 13 flyouts.

“I just tried to keep it up, inside and outside,” she said.

Kraft was 2-for-3 and reached base all three times she batted. Grosskreutz had two diving catches in left field for the Indians.

MARION 3, CLEAR CREEK AMANA 2

4A Regional Quarterfinal, at Marion

Clear Creek Amana 000 200 0 — 2 2 2

Marion 201 000 x — 3 7 2

Raina Henze and Ainsley Schrock. Megan Kessens and Sydney Nielsen. W — Kessens (20-17). L — Henze (6-9). HR — CCA: Schrock (7), MAR: Cloee Kraft (8).

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

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