Your Prep Sports
WEST BRANCH – Marion didn’t have many hits in its non-conference contest with West Branch on Saturday afternoon but the Indians came up with big hits at the right time.
None of the five Marion hits were bigger than a two-out, third-inning grand slam by pitcher Megan Kessens that broke open a one-run game and led the Indians to a 7-0 win over West Branch in a matinee contest in West Branch.
The grand slam by Kessens was part of a five-run Marion (3-4) third inning in which the Indians took advantage of four walks.
“They are a good team, we knew that they were going to hit the ball,” West Branch coach Chandran Lapel said. “We knew they were going to put it in play but obviously if you take out that one hit, in that one rough inning it’s a totally different game.”
Kessens provided herself all the offensive support she would need with the grand slam as the right-hander struck out 11 in a three-hit shutout.
The loss snapped a two-game winning streak for West Branch (2-1) which had scored a combined 22 runs in its first three games.
“We’ve been hitting the ball really well and today it just wasn’t there,” Lapel said. “I still feel good about our lineup, I feel good about the team.”
Marion took a 1-0 lead with a run in the first inning when Peyton Johnson drew a leadoff walk and scored on an RBI single by Cloee Kraft.
It was 2-0 after Kylie Kramer walked and scored on an RBI groundout by Maddie Steffen in the second.
Kessens quickly provided a cushion with a high fly ball that just cleared the center field fence for a grand slam.
I want to win every game, it doesn’t matter if its conference or non-conference, I want to win every game,” Lapel said. “I wish we would have played a little better today but Marion played well. They took advantage when they needed to.”
A West Branch offense that had scored 10 and eight runs in back-to-back wins couldn’t get anything going against Kessens.
Maddy Hatfield had a double to left field in the first and Nicki Henson an infield hit in the third both with two outs.
Those were the only two baserunners for West Branch until the fourth inning.
“She grew more confident as the game went on and our hitters did the opposite,” Lapel said. “They started to chase pitches and just didn’t look good for us.”
Hatfield was hit by a pitch to lead off the fourth but Kessens got back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.
Kessens fanned two more in the fifth and worked around a two-hit hit by pitch against Hatfield in the sixth.
Kaiya Luneckas reached on an error to start the seventh and Lexi Klinkkamer had a two-out single but that was all the Bears could muster.
“We told them we had to lock in and if she gave us a pitch early in the count that was good enough to hit we had to jump on it,” Lapel said. “We didn’t take advantage of those pitches and when she got ahead in the count she could throw whatever she wanted.”
Luneckas took the loss for West Branch allowing seven runs on five hits while striking out 10.
“When Kaiya is on she is really hard to hit,” Lapel said. “I am confident in her and I want her to be confident in herself because that’s the biggest thing is just he mental approach to the game.”
Marion 105 000 1 – 7 5 1
West Branch 000 000 0 – 0 3 0
W – Megan Kessens L – Kaiya Luneckas
2B – WB: Maddy Hatfield. MAR: Michaela Goad
HR – MAR: Megan Kessens