CEDAR RAPIDS — Alisha Frese’s blueprint is pretty simple.
“We’re going to throw strikes. We’re going to play defense,” she said. “If we do those things, the hitting will come.”
And so will the winning.
The Frese era began successfully Tuesday night; Class 5A No. 13 Cedar Rapids Prairie claimed a home Mississippi Valley Conference cross-divisional sweep of Cedar Rapids Jefferson, 2-1 and 12-4.
Junior Riley Sauser drove in both runs in the opener, and made it stand up with a five-hit gem in the pitching circle.
“I was able to get into a groove, and the defense was spectacular behind me,” said Sauser, who retired 13 consecutive batters in a stretch that started in the second inning and lasted into the sixth.
See? Throw strikes. Play defense.
Frese came to Prairie after a long, successful stint at Dubuque Hempstead. And this isn’t a program in need of a drastic makeover. The Hawks were 29-12 last year.
And now, 2-0.
“I think there’s more intensity this year,” Sauser said. “We’re really jelling, and I’m excited about the future.”
Frese was hired March 13, about the same time the COVID-19 pandemic was shutting things down.
“I met the team for 15 minutes, then it was a lot of Zoom meetings,” Frese said. “I still have a lot to learn about them.”
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Sauser’s single to right field plated Alexis Barden and Amaya Snyder with two outs in the bottom of the first inning, and it stayed 2-0 until the J-Hawks (0-3) pushed across a run in the top of the seventh on Aliyah Walker’s RBI double.
But Sauser closed it out with a strikeout.
Both teams were busy on the basepaths in Game 2. Prairie had 24 baserunners, Jefferson 14. The Hawks broke it open with a six-run fourth inning in which the first five batters reached base. Sauser, Grace Ironside and Barden each drove in a run in the uprising.
Snyder had three hits in the nightcap and scored twice.
CEDAR RAPIDS PRAIRIE 2-12, CEDAR RAPIDS JEFFERSON 1-4
At C.R. Prairie
C.R. Jefferson 000 000 1 — 1 5 2
C.R. Prairie 200 000 x — 2 4 0
Olivia Young and Rhiana Briney. Riley Sauser and Jensyn Jones. W — Sauser (1-0). L — Young (0-1).
C.R. Jefferson 120 010 0 — 4 11 5
C.R. Prairie 312 600 x — 12 13 2
Shandi Rulli, Olivia Young (4), Savannah Edmonds (4) and Rhiana Briney. Gabby Robinson, Megan Steffens (5) and Jensyn Jones. W — Robinson (1-0). L — Rulli (0-2). SV — Steffens (1).
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