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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 16, 2017

Mt. Pleasant rides pitching, defense over Trojans

By Andy Krutsinger, Mt. Pleasant News | Jul 05, 2017
Photo by: ANDY HALLMAN/Ledger photo Haley Beard pitches against Mt. Pleasant Monday.

One of the most intense rivalries in Iowa softball heated up in a big way on Monday night as No. 8 Mt. Pleasant faced No. 3 Fairfield in a conference championship deciding doubleheader.

The Panthers needed to win both games in order to take the SEC, and they did just that, defeating the Trojans, 2-1 in game one and 5-0 in game two to win their second-straight conference championship.

The Panthers struck first in game one when Allison Buckert drove in a run in the second inning to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.

Allison Rebling tied it up for the Trojans with an RBI single in the fourth but Abbie Liechty helped Mt. Pleasant take back the lead at 2-1, with an RBI single of her own in the top of the fifth.

That was all starting pitcher Cali Liechty needed. She shut the Trojans down over the final three innings and picked up the win, going seven innings and giving up one earned run on six hits, while striking out two batters.

Buckert finished 2-2 with two stolen bases, an RBI and a run scored to lead the team offensively. Makayla Cam went 2-4.

Haley Beard had a nice outing in the circle, despite picking up the loss. She went all seven innings and gave up two earned runs on six hits and two walks, while stirking out four.

Rebeling finished 1-3 with a double and an RBI to lead the Trojans. Brynna Bowman and Beard each went 1-3 with a double and Kenady Waugh finished 1-3 with a run scored.

The shutdown pitching continued for Mt. Pleasant in game two. Bailey Johnson threw seven scoreless innings, giving up just three hits and three walks while striking out three batters.

“That is as tough as our defense and our pitching has been all year,” Panther head coach Troy Mears said after the game. “When you keep the third-ranked team to one run in 14 innings, that’s awesome.”

Buckert and Cam came up big again in game two. Cam finished 2-4 with a solo home run, an RBI and two runs scored. Buckert finished 2-3 with three stolen bases and a run scored. Jackie Fraise and C. Liechty each had an RBI in the win and Dani Broeker finished 2-3.

Ashtyn Drish, Kaylee Watson and Rebeling each had one hit in game two for Fairfield. Rebeling was tagged with the loss on the mound, going five and two-thirds innings and giving up four earned runs on seven hits and two walks, while striking out six.

Fairfield head coach Bob Bradfield said it was disappointing to lead the conference race all season and let it slip away the final day, but he still has tremendous pride in his team and believes it will do great things in the postseason.

“It wasn’t like we played bad Monday night,” said Bradfield this morning. “Mt. Pleasant played well on defense and got hits when they needed them. We had trouble getting people on base, and when we did, we couldn’t drive them in. Mt. Pleasant was the better team that night.”

The Trojans now must regroup and prepare for the playoffs. Keokuk and Fort Madison will play Thursday night in the opening round, and the winner will travel to Fairfield for a game at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Trojans were 3-1 against Ft. Madison and 4-0 against Keokuk this season.

No matter who wins Thursday, Bradfield said Beard will be in the circle for the Trojans Saturday.

“She’s had muscle strain in her forearm the last few weeks, but she’s been our No. 1 pitcher all year, so she’ll throw,” Bradfield said.

The Panthers too will wait and see who they play in round one. Marion and Maquoketa will face off on Thursday, July 6, for the chance to take on Mt. Pleasant in Saturday’s regional semifinal.

Fairfield finished 12-4. Keokuk was 8-8. Washington was 6-10, and Ft. Madison went 1-15.

The Panthers will play at home on Saturday, July 8. A win will earn them another home game on Tuesday, July 11, in the regional final game.

Mt. Pleasant went 13-3 in the SEC to take the conference title in 2017.

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