Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | May 27, 2018

Panther softball plays for state

Jul 11, 2017
MPN file photo Cali Liechty (pictured) comes into tonight’s regional final with a 2.01 ERA.

By Andy Krutsinger, Mt. Pleasant News


The eighth-ranked Mt. Pleasant softball team just has one more win to grind out to earn their second ever trip to the state tournament in Ft. Dodge.

The Panthers will host Cedar Rapids Xavier tonight (Tuesday) in a game that will decide one of the eight spots on the Class 4A state softball bracket.

Mt. Pleasant earned their spot in the regional final with a 13-6 win over Maquoketa on Saturday night. The Panthers earned the top seed in Class 4A Region 7, which gave them a first-round bye.

The Panthers have used a dynamic offense and stellar pitching to get to the regional final. They currently sit in second place in Class 4A in total runs scored, trailing only rival Fairfield. The Panthers and Trojans are the only 4A teams with 300 or more runs scored this season.

Starting pitchers Cali Liechty and Bailey Johnson have split the team’s 40 starts this year. Signs point to Liechty as tonight’s starter. The senior currently has a 2.01 earned run average and picked up her 17th win of the season on Saturday night.

Johnson has anchored the high-powered offense this year. She is currently tied for second in 4A with 55 RBIs and leads the class with 30 walks. Johnson is also top five in Class 4A with 12 home runs, two of which came on Saturday night.

Xavier comes into tonight’s game as hot as any team in Class 4A. The Saints have won their last four games by a combined score of 49-0. The last team to score on Xavier was Waverly-Shell Rock, who beat the Saints in Cedar Rapids, 9-2, at the end of June.

Maria Steffen is expected to be in the circle for the Saints. She has a 2.80 ERA this year and has already picked up two shutout victories this postseason. The Saints took down Grinnell 12-0 in the opening round and upset No. 11 ADM 10-0 on Saturday night.

Xavier has a balanced offense. Charlotte Richards, who bats second for the team, leads the team with a .429 average. She and Olivia Richards, who bats third, co-lead the team with three RBIs each.

Eight different Saints and six different Panthers have at least one home run this season, so the long ball could be a big player tonight.

Mt. Pleasant holds a big advantage in the running game. The Panthers have 113 stolen bases this season, while the Saints have just 22. Xavier, however, has not been thrown out on a steal attempt yet this year.

This will be the Panthers’ third regional final in three years. Mt. Pleasant upset top-seeded Davenport Assumption 3-1 at home in 2015. Last season, eventual state-champion Oskaloosa upended the Panthers 6-0.

Xavier was shut out, 1-0, by Marion in the 2015 regional semifinals. The Saints advanced to the regional final last season but fell 10-2 at Carlisle.

Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., at Mapleleaf Athletic Complex in Mt. Pleasant. The Panther baseball team will be in action as well, hosting their final home regular season game at 5:30 p.m., against Burlington.

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