SOLON — When a three-run lead became one after five innings, Robin Brand considered handing the ball to a relief pitcher.
In the end, the Mount Vernon softball coach stuck by senior Amanda Roe, and Roe made sure her coach’s faith paid off in a big way.
“She just wanted me to keep throwing hard and keep throwing fast,” Roe said after the No. 13 Mustangs held off No. 11 Solon, 3-2, in a Class 3A regional final Monday night at Solon High School. “Just keep going and don’t give up.”
Roe (13-9) breezed through the first four innings by allowing just two hits and no runs with four strikeouts as the Mustangs built a 3-0 lead. After the aforementioned two-run fifth inning, Roe allowed three more hits over the final two frames, but no more runs.
“Mandy is a senior,” Brand said. “Let’s step up and get this done. I will tell you what, she did. She wanted that as much as anyone else. … It was awesome and she just kept throwing harder, didn’t she? And she kept control of everything. I am so proud of her.”
The victory delivered Mount Vernon (27-11) to the state tournament for the sixth time in school history, including four of the last five years. The seventh-seeded Mustangs will play a 3A state quarterfinal against No. 2 Louisa-Muscatine (33-4) at 11 a.m. on July 23 at Rogers Sport Complex in Fort Dodge.
“I am honestly super-duper happy that we are going back to state,” said Mount Vernon senior shortstop Sammy Moss, a UNI softball signee who will be making her fourth trip to Fort Dodge. “I feel like this time is different because we are so close.”
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Mount Vernon jumped on rival Solon with two runs in the top of the first inning, highlighted by a Lauren Ryan triple and an RBI double from senior slugger Kenzie Ketchum. The Mustangs tacked on a valuable insurance run in the fourth inning when freshman Nadia Telecky ripped an opposite-field double down the third-base line that scored freshman Ella Wischmeyer.
“It helps me feel more relaxed,” Roe said of pitching with a lead. “And having runs already, it helps make me feel relaxed. It helps me feel better about the situation. If we get runners on, it doesn’t feel as much pressure.”
Back-to-back Solon singles with two outs in the sixth inning created a high-pressure situation for Roe and the Mustangs. With the tying run on second base and winning run on first, a high fly ball sailed towards the foul line in right-field.
Wischmeyer, one of several state-track participants on the field for the Mustangs, sprinted to her left and preserved the one-run lead with a spectacular running grab.
“I just saw it and I wanted to go for it,” said Wischmeyer, who also recorded the final out of the game with the tying run on first base. “I got lucky and was able to catch it and snag it.”
Sophomore Sarah Heick posted a two-run double for Solon, which ends its season at 23-16.
CLASS 3A REGIONAL FINAL
No. 13 Mount Vernon 3, No. 11 Solon 2
Mount Vernon 200 100 0—3 5 0
Solon 000 020 0—2 7 2
Amanda Roe and Mandy Morrical. Kayla West and Skylar Stookey. W — Amanda Roe (13-9); L — Kayla West (15-6).
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