Softball: Richmond-Burton tops Genoa-Kingston, rolls into Class 2A sectional final

Rockets junior center fielder Madison Kunzer hits 2 home runs, drives in 5

Madison Kunzer, Richmond-Burton

MARENGO – Richmond-Burton sophomore and No. 9 hitter Ellie Smith battled back against Genoa-Kingston starting pitcher Kiki Mitchell after falling behind 0-2 in the count, eventually drawing a leadoff walk on eight pitches in the bottom of the third inning.

That was the start of something big for the Rockets, who sent 13 to the plate and scored nine runs in the inning, including a three-run home run by junior center fielder Madison Kunzer.

Richmond-Burton posted another nine runs in the fourth, getting a walk-off, two-run double from junior Emerson Herrick for an 18-3 victory against G-K in its Class 2A Marengo Sectional semifinal Tuesday.

The third-seeded Rockets (25-10) added onto their school record for wins in a season and will face the winner of Wednesday’s semifinal between No. 4 seed North Boone and No. 7 seed Bureau Valley in the title game at 4:30 p.m. Friday.

R-B recorded 14 hits, with 13 coming in the final two innings. In the first two, Mitchell held the Rockets to one hit with three strikeouts.

All of us get along so well and work together so well, and I think that just makes us more comfortable and we hype each other up.

—  Madison Kunzer, Richmond-Burton junior center fielder

Kunzer added a two-run homer in the fourth and finished with a game-high five RBIs. She leads the Rockets with nine home runs this season.

“I was just going out there trying to get a hit to help out the team,” Kunzer said. “All of us get along so well and work together so well, and I think that just makes us more comfortable, and we hype each other up. That inning just kept going.”

The Rockets had five players with multiple hits, including Holtz (3 for 4, double, two runs, two RBIs), Sydney Hird (2 for 4, two runs, RBI), Rebecca Lanz (2 for 4, two RBIs) and Herrick (3 for 3, two RBIs).

Lanz and Herrick have been on fire and boast batting averages over .500 during the second half of the season, coach Tylar Stanton said. Adriana Portera drove in four runs, while Smith scored three runs and Lilly Kwapniewski scored two.

Holtz, a junior, picked up the win, allowing two hits over four innings with four strikeouts and a walk. Two of the three runs against her were unearned.

Last week, the Iowa State commit pitched a 1-0 one-hitter against Aurora Central Catholic to help the Rockets capture their fourth straight regional title. R-B will go for its second sectional title in three years Friday.

“Obviously, this has been our goal since my freshman year when we did it last,” Holtz said. “I think it’s just awesome. I’m really excited to get back to where we were, and hopefully we can go back to supersectionals.”

The Cogs (19-12), meanwhile, were coming off their first regional title since 2012 last week when they upset top-seeded Stillman Valley 2-1 behind a one-hitter from Mitchell and an inside-the-park, two-run homer from Faith Thompson.

Although their season ended Tuesday, coach Erica Swan was proud of the way her team kept battling. Thompson and Emily Trzynka, both seniors, had the lone hits for G-K on Tuesday.

“They developed a lot of team chemistry and have worked really hard to get to where they are,” Swan said. “They picked each other up and never put each other down, never hung their heads after a loss. They kept battling knowing that they can beat any team on any given day.”

Mitchell took the loss but said nothing will take away from what the team accomplished.

“Probably the highlight of the season, we’ve been working so hard for that these last four years,” Mitchell said of winning a regional title. “This season has meant so much to me. These girls, I’ll never forget them, they’re my best friends and I’m sad to not be playing with them anymore, but I’m so proud of where they’re going to go.”

The Rockets aren’t simply satisfied with owning the school record for wins in a season.

“From top to bottom, we have great girls and they just want to win,” Stanton said. “We just broke the school record for wins, and I don’t think that’s what they’re searching for.”

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