Your Prep Sports
SOLON – For 11 innings and nearly three hours Kendall Jensen waited for an opportunity to impact Thursday’s Class 3A, Region 7 quarterfinal.
When that chance finally came Jensen made the most of it.
Jensen worked out of a bases loaded jam after relieving starting pitcher Maddyn Gates in the top of the 12th inning then led off the bottom of the inning with a single to spark No. 11 Solon in a 4-3 win over West Delaware in the postseason opener for both teams in Solon.
“I just had to stay focused and cheer for my teammates,” Jensen said. “I know that if I can’t do it someone else can so I wasn’t getting down so I kept cheering and staying in the game and when it was my turn I had to go out there and do my job.”
Jensen earned the win working a scoreless 2/3 of an inning and her single leading off the bottom of the 12th turned resulted in the game-winning run scored by pinch hitter Keegan Kleppe as Solon advanced to the Region 7 semifinals.
Solon (23-13) will host Monticello (19-14) in regional semifinal on Saturday at 7 p.m.
“I told Kendall it’s a credit to her, Maddyn (Gates) pitched her butt off and Kendall sat for 11 innings and came in and was ready to go,” Solon coach Brad Holub said. “She took the baton and took off.”
Solon took a 3-1 lead on a two-run home run by Izzy Frees in the bottom of the second inning.
West Delaware (16-23) pulled even with two runs in the top of the fourth.
The two teams then put up a full game worth of zeros, going scoreless for the next seven innings before Solon broke through in the 12th.
“I think momentum is a big thing,” Solon junior Kayla Meseck said. “We were able to get through 12 innings of a game and come out on top and that’s huge.”
Before Solon got the winning run in the bottom of the 12th the Hawks had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the top of the inning.
West Delaware loaded the bases with one out on a pair of walks and a bunt single.
Jensen got Evangeline Ward to ground to short and Hilary Wilson threw to home for the second out.
Jensen then got Hayley Vaske to hit an inning-ending ground ball to Gates at first.
“I knew my teammates were behind me, they have been all year,” Jensen said. “I went out and took a deep breath and pitched how I know how to pitch and I knew we were going to get another run.”
Jensen led off the bottom of the 12th with a single lining a 3-2 pitch into left field.
Kleppe advanced to second on a wild pitch and moved to third on a ground out by Makenna Rogers.
Meseck had the game-winning RBI, punching a ground ball to the right side of the infield to score Kleppe from third.
“The previous pitch I had popped it up so I knew I had to get the top half,” Meseck said. “Brad (Holub) gave me the slug sign and we had been working on slugging in practice lately and I knew I had to get it down and get it to the right side and we’d have a very good chance of scoring.”
Gates allowed three runs on 10 hits while striking out six and walking two in 11 1/3 before giving way to Jensen.
Frees had four of the 10 hits for Solon and drove in two runs and scored twice.
“That was the epitome for a team win,” Holub said. “Some of our bigger hitters didn’t come through the way they normally do but we got it from other places. Up and down the lineup we did things, we just executed.”
West Delaware 010 200 000 000 – 3 11 3
Solon 120 000 000 001 – 4 10 1
W – Kendall Jensen L – Claire Ridenour
2B – SOL: Izzy Frees. WD: Vedah Langel
HR – SOL: Izzy Frees