Kennedy tightens grip on conference lead
The Kennedy softball team continues to round into shape as the end of the regular season approaches.
Entering last week tied in the conference standings with Gervais, the No. 7 Trojans took the first of three games against the Cougars in a 7-2 victory on April 22 to claim sole possession of the lead in the Special District 2 race.
Kennedy followed with three double-digit league wins to close out the week, beating the Sheridan Spartans 20-0 and the Delphian Dragons 15-4 in a home double-header on April 24 and following with a 16-1 home win against Jefferson on April 26 to close out the week and extend their current streak of consecutive victories to 10 games.
Kennedy 7, Gervais 2
The Trojans' biggest win came in its opening game of the week, taking on a Gervais team that had been playing its best softball of the season and had won five straight prior to the contest.
And the Cougars kept things relatively close, taking the Trojans to a full seven innings for the first time this season in league play.
The first half of the game was a defensive battle, with Kennedy junior Grace Schaecher facing off on the mound against Gervais counterpart Veronica Esquivel.
The Trojans were able to take their first advantage in the bottom of the second inning when Lydia Berning hit a two-out single to left field to score teammate Rylie Newton. Kennedy added one more when Ellie Cantu took advantage of a Gervais error to score before Esquivel coerced Elise Suing to pop out to end the inning.
Schaecher kept the Cougars largely at bay by racking up 14 strikeouts over the course of the game while holding Gervais to just two hits total. Esquivel proved difficult for the Trojans as well, striking out the side in the bottom of the third and getting three quick outs in the fourth.
Kennedy finally found purchase in the fifth, putting two runners on with one out, allowing Emily Cuff to drive in Berning with a line drive double to left field. Following a strikeout by Schaecher, Kalyssa Kleinschmit singled to center, scoring Suing and Cuff. Newton, in turn, drove in Kleinschmit to make it a 6-0 game before Cantu popped out to end the inning.
Kennedy added one more run in the bottom of the sixth on a passed ball to bump their lead to 7-0 before the Cougars finally were able to find a bit of room against Schaecher in the top of the seventh.
With one out on the board, Gervais' Bella Vasquez was hit with a pitch by Schaecher, and teammate Natali Barrera followed with a ground ball to center to put runners on first and second.
Alexa Rutledge drew a walk to load the bases, allowing the Trojans to pick up their second out in the next at-bat when Schaecher induced Esquivel into a short grounder, which she fielded and threw to Cuff at home base to keep Vasquez from scoring.
Gervais picked up its first run in the next at-bat when Abigail Saalfeld took four straight balls to walk home Barrera. Schaecher hit the next batter, Jasmine Fernandez, to bring home Rutledge, but ended the inning with a strikeout against Regina Vargas to finish the game.
Berning and Newton led the Trojans with two hits each, while Kleinschmit's two RBIs led the team.
Esquivel struck out eight in six innings, while Saalfeld led the team on offense, going 1-of-2 with two walks and an RBI.
Kennedy 20, Sheridan 0
The Trojans blew open a scoreless game in the second inning with 14 straight runs. Suing and Carley each drove in four runs, while Hailey Arritola started her first game this season, scoring four runs to lead the team. Schaecher struck out nine and gave up two hits in five innings.
Kennedy 15, Delphian 4
The Trojans scored 11 runs in the first two innings, while Cantu struck out 10 and gave up two hits in the victory. Freshman Morgan Kyle led the team with four RBIs.
Kennedy 16, Jefferson 1
Kennedy put up nine runs in the first and seven more in the fourth while Schaecher held the Lions to one hit and 11 strikeouts in five innings.