Addi Rotz coming to home plate after a two-run homer in an 11-5 win against Charleston at Mt. Zion.
By BLAKE FAITH
The Mt. Zion softball team went two and one last week, losing one to St. Anthony and winning a deciding Apollo Conference doubleheader going into Charleston.
The Braves and Trojans softball rivalry dates back over the last few years. Apollo Conference championships have gone in favor of the Trojans since 2019 minus Mahomet-Seymour winning the Apollo in 2022. The Braves knocked out Charleston in the playoffs on their way to state playoff runs in 2018 and 2019.
In the first inning of the double-header, Charleston took a three-run lead when Karah Moore hit a three-run homer in the third Trojan at-bat.
The Braves offense bounced back in the bottom of the first when Kennedy Highley hit a double that ended up all the way to the right-field wall. Addi Rotz then blasted a two-run homer over the right-centerfield wall to narrow the Trojans’ lead to 3-2.
The Braves’ defense about the Braves for the next six innings and offensively the Braves got help in the bottom of their lineup in the bottom of the second. Molly Besser hit a double to the left field gap.
Jolie Shafer laid down a bunt for a single and then stole second base. Ana Kanemaru hit a hard ball to the third baseman that got her in safely to load the bases. Kayla Schnippel hit a two RBI single to the right field gap to give the Braves a 4-3 lead.
Dakota Harrison followed with an RBI single to right field to give the Braves a 5-3 lead that turned into an 11-5 win.
In the second game, Harrison started once again and pitched two shutout innings to start the game. Then in the top of the third the Trojans scored three runs off two hits and two errors.
Kanemaru was walked to start the bottom of the fourth inning. Kanemaru worked her way to third base and Highley was struck out on a dropped strike and got to first safely. Highley tricked the Trojan defense going for second that brother in Kanemaru to home and stole second base to make the score 3-1. Highley then scored off a wild pitch all the way from second to make the score 3-2.
Harrison then picked herself back up and gave her a 4-3 lead. Harrison sent a two-run homer over the left field wall and then threw four more shutout innings to win the game 5-3.
I think they led first in both games and again, to our kids’ credit they didn’t blink,” Head coach Greg Blakey said. They stayed with the plan and had good at bats even though we had the bad air, the bad inning where we had two errors back to back and maybe three total. They never questioned themselves, they never got down and they never panicked. Again, a very mature approach to these games. Again, Charleston’s a very good team. So this is two very, very good wins for us.”
The two doubleheader wins resulted in an Apollo Conference chance at winning the conference championship. The Braves are 22-5 overall and with a 9-1 conference record currently sit in first place of the Apollo. If the Braves wink just one against Mahomet-Seymour next Saturday, the Braves will win their first conference championship since 2019. If the Braves lose both, the Braves will tie for first.
The Braves will face Bloomington, Pairs, Meridian and Mahomet-Seymour next week.
We wanna stay focused, because that is, in two weeks is the regional,” Coach Blakey said. “So, we’re trying to keep building and keep finding ways to get better, because we want to be a number one seed in the region and obviously we want to win the regional.”