MARION — Megan Kessens is accustomed to pitching twice in one day.
The Marion softball sophomore leads the state with 37 starts and 225 1/3 innings pitched. With nine days until the Indians open the postseason with a Class 4A regional quarterfinal at home against Clear Creek Amana, Kessens has some long overdue rest coming.
“Most people say it is my body structure,” Kessens said after pitching Marion to a doubleheader split with Class 2A No. 10 Dyersville Beckman Monday night at Marion High School. “But for me, it is just having the mindset that I will be back. That I will pitch those games. That I just won’t give up.”
In the opener, Kessens yielded just three hits and one run, walked one and struck out six in a 5-1 Indians victory. She retired the first nine batters she faced in the nightcap until a five-run fourth inning propelled Beckman to a 6-4 win.
Kessens’ 37 starts are the most by any pitcher in the state across all classes since 2016. After posting a 14-16 record with a 4.05 earned run average and 154 strikeouts last season, Kessens has lowered her ERA to 2.54, increased her strikeouts (177) and has a winning record (19-17) this year.
“It is hard sometimes to get her out of there,” Marion Coach Scott Fruehling said with a laugh. “Last year we actually made up an award called the ‘Clydesdale Award.’ She was our workhorse. She just doesn’t get tired. She has just been there for us every day. There are times we think she starts to run out of gas, and then she gets herself out of an inning.”
Shea Steffen and Kiersten Schmitt both drove in a pair of runs in Game 2 for Beckman (24-12, 17-7 Wamac), which visits Center Point-Urbana Wednesday.
Marion’s regular season ends at 21-17, 13-13. The Indians have everyone back from the bunch that got within a game of the state tournament last season and believe they have the formula for another surge through the regional bracket.
“Just focus and trust each other,” Kessens said. “Communication.”
Marion 5-4, Class 2A No. 10 Dyersville Beckman 1-6
Dyersville Beckman 100 000 0—1 3 1
Marion 102 020 x—5 7 1
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Megan Kessens and Sydney Nielsen. Sydney Steffen and Kamryn Klas. W — Megan Kessens (19-16); L — Sydney Steffen (18-11). HR — MAR: Sydney Nielsen (4).
Dyersville Beckman 000 500 1—6 8 1
Marion 020 000 2—4 10 1
Megan Kessens and Peyton Johnson. Sydney Steffen and Kamryn Klas. W — Sydney Steffen (19-11); L — Megan Kessens (19-17); HR — MAR: Cloee Kraft (7).
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