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  • Val T.

Caston ousts Kouts: Mollenkopf pitches 1-hitter, Scales homers, drives in 5


BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC



FRANKFORT — Kinzie Mollenkopf pitched a one-hitter with 13 strikeouts, and Isabel Scales homered and drove in five runs for the No. 7 Caston softball team in a 9-0 win over Kouts in a Class 1A Frankfort semistate semifinal Saturday afternoon.

Scales also singled and doubled for Caston, who improved to 21-4 and advanced to the Class 1A final four. This continued the furthest advancement in state tournament history for Caston, who had never won a sectional prior to this year.

Kouts, who like Caston was playing in their first ever semistate, finished 19-8.

Kouts came in with a .417 team batting average, but the only hit they could muster was Cassie Breitzke's bloop single with one out in the sixth.

They never had a baserunner reach scoring position.

Mollenkopf retired the first 13 batters before walking Katie Kleckner with one out in the fifth.

The most challenging defensive play the Lady Comets made occurred on the batter before Kleckner's walk when left fielder Makena Middleton went to a knee to catch Natalie Kozub's liner.

After Breitzke's hit to shallow left in the sixth, Mollenkopf struck out Jenna Sohacki and got Desiree Hall to ground into an inning-ending forceout.

The only inning in which she did not record a strikeout was the seventh. The game ended with Mollenkopf inducing three straight pop-ups to Scales at shortstop.

Scales hit a two-run homer to center field in the top of the fifth to make it 6-0 and lined a three-run double down the left field line in the seventh to extend the lead to 9-0.

Scales is 11 for 16 (.688) during the postseason with three homers and 12 RBIs.

The other Caston player to have a multi-hit game was junior second baseman Addison Zimpleman, who had two hits and two runs scored.

Just like the regional game against Fremont Tuesday, the visiting Lady Comets handed Mollenkopf a four-run lead before she threw her first pitch.

In the regional game, Caston hit four homers in the first two innings. This time, Caston relied on two bunts to score three of their four runs.

The first run came on freshman catcher Kylee Logan's RBI single to right-center that scored Scales, who singled and advanced to second when Mollenkopf reached on an error.

"I was just looking for a hit, just to make contact and move the runners," Logan said. "I was just trying to make contact with the ball, and then it just went right in the gap, and I was like, 'OK, that's perfect.' ... Oh, yeah, I was getting hyped. I was like, 'OK, this is fun.'"

Mollenkopf went to third on the hit, and Logan went to second on the throw.

Alexa Finke then bunted, and when the throw trying to get her at first was wild for an error, Mollenkopf and Logan scored and Finke raced to third.

After Annie Harsh reached on an error, Harness drove home Finke with another squeeze bunt and reached second on the fourth error of the inning.

"We worked hard all season long because we knew it was going to have to come into play sometime someday," Caston coach Jon Burks said. "And through the last couple practices prior to here, we worked on the bunting, and I said, 'Kids, bunts are going to be crucial Saturday.' They executed wonderfully.

"Jumping on them off the bat is what I wanted to do, and that's what we did. We set the tone, and I think that's what got them on their heels."

Kleckner retired 11 straight batters after that before Addison Zimpleman reached on an infield single just prior to Scales' homer.

Burks said assistant coach Greg Zimpleman noticed that Kleckner was pitching effectively in on the hands of the Caston hitters -- "cuffing," in softball terminology.

So the coaches told the hitters to step away from the plate and make Kleckner try and hit the outside corner.

"It wasn't a big adjustment, but it was just enough to barrel up the ball," Burks said. "It don't take much -- just a little bit here, a little bit there. We fine-tuned it, and we got it."

Haley Logan and Macee Hinderlider singled off Kleckner to start the seventh. Kouts coach John Hall replaced Kleckner with lefty Natalie Kozub.

Zimpleman greeted Kozub with a single to load the bases for Scales, who scorched a liner down the third baseline.

Caston 9, Kouts 0

Caston 400 020 3 – 9 9 0

Kouts 000 000 0 – 0 1 4

WP – Kinzie Mollenkopf (7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 13 K)

LP – Katie Kleckner (6 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 3 K)

2B – Annie Harsh (CAS), Isabel Scales (CAS)

HR – Isabel Scales (CAS)


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