Mid-Praire outlasts Benton for state berth
For the fifth straight season, Mid-Prairie softball is headed to Fort Dodge.
The Golden Hawks used a late hit by Whitney Christensen to cap off a three-run fifth inning which gave them a 6-5 lead they wouldn’t relinquish to complete the victory over No. 1 ranked Benton.
“We were all a little nervous and anxious going into the game, but overall we were very confident going into this game,” Mid-Prairie head coach Kara Beatty said. “We knew they were a tough team, but we knew we were tough, too, and we needed to stick with our game plan.”
Mid-Prairie now stands at 25-10 heading into the 3A state tournament, which will begin on Monday.
Benton started off the game quickly, scoring two runs on the Hawks in the top of the first inning, the first time Mid-Prairie had trailed in the playoffs this season.
“They got the two runs right away in the top of the first, and I had to go out and call time midway through that inning,” Beatty said. “I told them we were going to have to score to win anyway, so it was fine. We weren’t going to let it happen again, and a lot of that first inning was nerves. Once we got out of that first inning we relaxed a bit and went another couple innings without giving up a run.”
Taylor Kurtz responded for the Hawks in the bottom of the second with a solo home run, and in the third, Amber Kral hit an RBI single, as Mid-Prairie took a 3-2 lead after three innings.
Benton tied the game up in the fourth, then took another two-run lead in the top of the fifth on four hits.
In the bottom of the fifth, Mid-Prairie’s Alex Rath reached on an error and after two passed balls made it 6-5, then Lexi Duwa tied the game when she stole home during a rundown.
“At that point we had been through the lineup a couple times and the fifth was huge for us,” Beatty said. “We had the top of the order and if they can get on, they can move over and we’ll score them. Whitney Christiansen came through with the clutch hit and we knew that if she just made hard contact with it, it would go through.”
Christiansen’s single in the bottom of the fifth scored Kral and ended up being the difference as the Hawks earned a trip to state.
“I was relieved,” Beatty said. “That last inning we were facing their three, four and five hitters who have a lot of power. The girls were overwhelmed with excitement and for me, watching that last out was the epitome of the entire season. I told them at the beginning of the year that I had faith in them and we didn’t know what to expect out of this season. We graduated a huge senior class who had been to state four seasons in a row, and nobody really knew what this team was going to be. We peaked at the right moment this season.”
Mid-Prairie will face East Marshall (32-3) in the first round of state action on Monday, July 21, at 11 a.m.