Small College Sports

Jess Heick's consistent approach keeps working for Mount Mercy softball

Solon grad increases hitting streak to 13 in split with Grand View

Jess Heick, Mount Mercy softball
Jess Heick, Mount Mercy softball

CEDAR RAPIDS — Baseball and softball players can be a superstitious bunch.

Mount Mercy’s Jess Heick admits she can be that way with her unique quirks, keeping the same color bow and hairstyle after a good game.

The lefty hitter has a specific routine before each at-bat. Heick listens to the walk-up song for a brief moment as she approaches the batter’s box. She steps in and shifts her stare to the Louisville Slugger logo near the handle of her LXT bat, following with a deep breath.

“I take the same approach every time,” Heick said. “I think it kind of calms me down, but I am super superstitious.”

The process has worked for the Mustangs’ top batter. Heick extended her hit streak to 13 games with three more in Mount Mercy’s doubleheader split against Grand View on Saturday at Busse Field in Plaster Athletic Complex. The Mustangs won the opener, 7-0, but lost the second, 3-2.

Heick finished 3-for-7, scoring twice and notching the game-winning RBI in the first game.

“She’s a sparkplug for us,” Yoder said. “She sits in the three spot and you can always depend on her. She’s going to put it in play.

“She wasn’t feeling well physically today and yet she was out here battling.”

Heick set the program’s regular-season hits record with 68, earning second-team all-Heartland of America Athletic Conference honors as a freshman. She increased her total to 43 this spring, hitting at a .406 clip with 28 runs, 24 RBIs and a .466 on-base percentage.

Good luck getting any of those numbers from the sophomore third baseman. She doesn’t know, nor does she care.

“I go to the plate, looking for something for the team,” Heick said. “When I go up there, I’m looking to see if I can get someone in or start a rally.

“I’m not much of a stats girl. I honestly don’t know how many hits I have this season or anything like that.”

Heick was a five-year starter and all-state performer at Solon for Hall of Fame Coach Jim White. She has some natural strength, but credited coaches with her mentality, timing and technique at the plate.

“I wouldn’t say it was natural,” Heick said. “I was taught by some great people how to hit, so that has contributed to it.”

Heick is a line-drive hitter with power. Patience is also a key for her success.

“She’s very patient,” Yoder said. “She doesn’t chase a lot of stuff. She doesn’t try to do too much.

“She’s always making adjustments. She’s a smart hitter, so she finds a way to get on.”

She opened the scoring with a run-scoring single, driving in Payton Bruner, who had three hits in the opener. Bruner and Morgan Braughton added RBI hits in the second. Audrey Grove added a two-run single in the third for Mount Mercy.

In the second game, Grand View capitalized on a couple miscues for a 3-0 lead. The Mustangs (20-12, 13-7 HAAC) battled back with two in the bottom of the seventh. Anna Stenberg had a pinch-hit single to score Jolona Shield. Tawney Menster scored on Braughton’s groundout to pull within a run before reliever Libby Yenger stranded the tying and winning run in scoring position.

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“We just made a couple mistakes early in the second game that put us in a hole,” Yoder said. “We struggled. We got to her at the end, but they kept battling. They never quit and never gave up. We had a chance to win it there at the end with a base hit but couldn’t quite get it. It was a good effort.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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