Entering play Thursday night the Cedar Valley Conference softball title race involved three teams Mid-Prairie, Iowa City Regina and Durant, after play concluded all three were still alive but things became much more clear after Mid-Prairie won a 6-5 thriller in Kalona. The Golden Hawks got on the board in the first off of Regal starter Hannah Stein, when Alex Rath singled to lead off the frame and was driven in by an Amber Kral double making the score 1-0 after one. The Regals answered with a pair in the second off of Golden Hawk starter Olivia Lugar, taking their first and only lead of the night at 2-1.
Mid-Prairie opened things up in the fifth with four runs on four hits to take back the lead. Mallory McArtor, Lexi Duwa, Michelle Erwin and Amber Kral all scored in the inning. Kral posted a pair of RBi and Maddie Kaalberg drove in one in the frame. Leading 5-2 Mid-Prairie would have to weather one more Regina storm. In the sixth the Regals got three runs on three hits and a Mid-Prairie error. In the inning Mid-Prairie would bring in reliever Taylor Kurtz who was able to limit the damage and keep the score tied at five going to the bottom half of the inning. After Mid-Prairie escaped another jam in the top half of the seventh in which the Regals stranded two, it was more Mid-Prairie magic in the bottom half.
Felicia Schulty led off the inning with a double against Regina reliever Alisson Stein. Duwa was called on to pinch run for Sculty. After a Kaalberg walk, the most clutch Golden Hawk this year, catcher Erika Murphy stepped in and delivered one more time with a deep fly ball to centerfield that fell in for a hit and the Mid-Prairie win. Following the game Murphy talked about the at bat.
“With one out I knew that all I had to do was get the ball into the outfield, and we had one of our fastest runners on third base and should be able to get home no matter what, so I was really relaxed in that concept, I just had a lot of trust in my teammates and I knew that everyone could do what they had to do,” Murphy said.
Mid-Prairie has been coming through late all season, especially Murphy who now owns a handful of game winning hits this season alone. Head Coach Justin Lutjen talked about his team’s late game mentality and what makes them so successful in clutch situations.
“They are relentless,” Lutjen said. “They have extreme confidence in themselves, and not just in themselves, but in their teammates. Felicia got things started with a double and that is just the shot that we needed, and Erika was able to bring her home it was exciting and I’m just so proud of my kids, and like I said they just have so much confidence in themselves and their teammates. It’s fun to watch.”
Kurtz recorded the win for Mid-Prairie going 1 2/3 innings allowing two hits and walking one. Stein took the loss for Regina allowing nine hits, six runs, four of them earned, walking two, and striking out three in 4 2/3 innings of work. The Hawks were led at the plate by Kral’s two hits and three RBI. With the win Mid-Prairie is now 22-7 on the year and 10-2 in the Cedar Valley Conference. The Golden Hawks own a full game lead over Durant in the conference race with just two games remaining. Regina is now 14-13 on the year 5-4 in the CVC.