Prep Softball

Unsung sophomore Kayla Felton comes up big for West Delaware in regional softball rout

Lowest batting average on a power-packed team but hits 3-run homer, drives in 4 in 12-2 semifinal win over Xavier

West Delaware Hawks head coach Tiffany Rave. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
West Delaware Hawks head coach Tiffany Rave. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

MANCHESTER — In a lineup of big hitters, Kayla Felton hasn’t been the biggest. Until Saturday night.

The sophomore shortstop’s three-run home run in the second inning got her West Delaware softball team going in what ended as a 12-2, six-inning victory over Cedar Rapids Xavier in a Class 4A regional semifinal.

The second-ranked Hawks came into this game with a gaudy team batting average of .376, second in the class. Felton was almost 200 points below that.

But she was clutch in a clutch moment, ending a long at-bat with a shot over the fence in left-center field. She added a run-scoring single in the sixth, as WD scored five times to employ the mercy rule.

“To me, it’s not all about the numbers,” Felton said. “It’s about what it is up there during the game. It’s all in the moment for me. I’ve been kind of in a slump, but having great teammates and coaches behind me, I’ve been working hard the last couple of practices. I knew I wanted to get better, knew I wasn’t where I wanted to be. So I’ve been working hard, and I guess it showed.”

West Delaware Coach Tiffany Rave said she had a feeling Felton would have a game.

“She didn’t get the results she wanted (in the regular season), but she has worked really hard the last couple of days on her swing and trying to improve things,” Rave said. “This afternoon at batting practice, she was having a day, and I told my assistant ‘I think we’re going to have a night tonight.’ Super exciting to see her come up with two big hits.”

West Delaware (20-4) plays Washington, Iowa (10-17) in a 4A regional final Tuesday night here. The Hawks had 12 hits in this one, Felton’s homer and four doubles.

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Each girl in the lineup had at least one hit or scored at least one run, minus leadoff hitter Macey Kleitsch. And she was the winning pitcher.

Xavier (16-10) ended her shutout bid on Briona Charipar’s two-run single in the sixth.

“I think at this point of the season, you are concerned about everybody, and you treat everybody equal,” Rave said. “One thing is we trust our girls every year this time of year (to realize) everyone is 0-0. Everybody is starting over at 0-0. We watched (Xavier) a couple of times, and I knew they were going to be a scrappy, good team. Ultimately when it comes down to it, you are focused on yourself. But a lot of respect for their program.”

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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