Class 1A softball: Marquette advances to regional title game with 10-0 win over Indian Creek

Crusaders’ offense picks up after shutting down a Timberwolves rally in third inning

Marquette's Kelsey Cuchra

SHABBONA – There are times when getting out of a tight spot in the defensive half of an inning can carry over for the team when it grabs the bats for the offensive half.

That was the case for No. 3-seeded Marquette in Wednesday’s Class 1A Indian Creek Regional semifinal against the host and No. 5-seeded Timberwolves.

Crusaders pitcher Taylor Cuchra was able to work out of a second-and-third, no-out situation in the top of the third before Maisie Lyons started a four-run bottom of the third with a solo homer.

Marquette (17-7) went on to add four more runs in the fourth and then ended the contest in the fifth with two runs to pick up a 10-0 victory.

The Crusaders will play Serena in the championship game at 4:30 p.m. on Friday. The Huskers topped Marquette 10-7 on April 20.

“This is a game of adjustments,” Marquette coach Curtiss Johnson said. “We talk a lot about making adjustments during the season, but when the postseason starts it becomes even more important with the one-and-you’re-done situation.

“We were as a group a little out in front of the ball the first time through the lineup, but I feel they all did an excellent job of making changes either in the batter’s box or mentally the second and third time through. We went from a lot of balls pulled foul to base hits up the middle or to the opposite-field gaps.”

While Marquette finished with 14 hits, Cuchra was solid in the circle, allowing a single in each inning with no walks and four strikeouts.

“It was just the normal Taylor today,” Johnson said. “She came out and threw hard, threw strikes and our defense did a great job behind her. She really turned things up in the third with runners in scoring position and no outs and I think the momentum of that carried over into our turn at bat.”

After Lyons’ blast that smacked the scoreboard in left-center off IC starter Bella Klotz, Makalya Backos lined an RBI single and Kealey Rick hit a two-run single to make it 4-0.

In the fourth, Emma Rinearson (3 for 3) led off with a single and eventually scored on an error. Backos was later hit by a pitch with the bases loaded before Rick came through again, driving in two more runs with a single to center.

Hunter Hopkins singled with two outs in the fifth and scored on a single by freshman catcher Kelsey Cuchra, her third hit of the game, to make it 9-0.

“I know I have to wait back if we face a pitcher that doesn’t throw super hard, and it’s something I struggle with,” Kelsey Cuchra said. “Today I was really focusing on staying calm, not getting too anxious and just really wanted to make sure I tried to hit the ball up the middle. I felt like I swung the bat pretty well today and stuck with all of the things at the plate that I wanted to do.”

The Crusaders then invoked the 10-run rule when Avery Durdan doubled to the center field fence off reliever Taylor Humes with courtesy runner Payton Anderson scoring the final run.

Gretta Oziah had two hits for Indian Creek (10-14), and Eliza Tatro, Hulmes and Klotz also posted singles.

“We had a very young group this season with four freshmen and a couple of sophomores in the starting lineup, but I really thought we played well for the first three innings,” Indian Creek coach Denver Davis said. “We just weren’t able to capitalize there in the third and then (Marquette) was able to string a few hits together in their half of the inning to grab the momentum.

“My game plan was to start off with (Klotz) because I’m sure Marquette is used to seeing a little faster pitching. The plan worked for a while and kept them off-balanced, but they did a good job adjusting.

“I’m proud of the girls for hanging in there and competing until the end.”

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