Mid-Prairie’s freshman pitcher Sydney Knebel and the Golden Hawk defense felt the pressure in the sixth inning on Saturday morning.
The Iowa City West offense, which had generated just one run and three baserunners through five innings, saw five of its first six batters put singles through the gaps in the sixth.
The lead was down to a single run with two runners on base and just one out when coach Amy Hartsock-Williams made a visit to the circle.
“Make the routine plays and we'll get out of this,” she told her team. “If they beat us hitting it, fine, that's one thing. Just make the routine plays, you've done it a thousand times, and you can do it right now.”
Knebel struck out the next batter and a pop up to second baseman Landry Pacha ended the threat. A leadoff single put the tying run on base in the seventh, but Knebel and the Golden Hawk defense retired the top of the Trojan lineup in order to preserve the 5-4 victory.
“That was kind of stressful and I just had to buckle down and deal with the situation and get it done,” Knebel said after the game.
West finished with eight hits. Knebel walked just one batter and struck out five over seven innings.
“I felt like my drop worked really well today,” she said. “My rise was there sometimes and the fastball was good.”
Eighth-grader Sophie Miller, who made the start at catcher on Saturday, was the other member of the winning battery.
Knebel also went 2-for-4 at the plate and drove in a pair of runs.
The top of the Golden Hawk order put runs on the scoreboard in the first, third, and fifth innings. Gabi Robertson was 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI from the two hole. Golden Hawk leadoff batter Dakota Mitchell was 3-for-4 with two runs scored.
Mid-Prairie led just 1-0 when she led off the third inning with a triple.
“It was right down the gut,” Mitchell said. “She wasn't very fast so I just timed her up and smoked it.”
Madeline Schrader had a third-inning single and Brittany Kinsinger reached base and scored in the fifth inning.
“We played small ball,” Hartsock-Williams said. “We put the ball in play. Their defense wasn't adjusting. So we just continued to put the ball in play, find the holes.”
The Golden Hawks went 2-2 against 4A and 5A competition during the week, falling 10-0 to North Scott in the second game of the Iowa City West Open in Coralville. Mid-Prairie split a doubleheader with Davenport North on Friday, winning game one 15-2 in five innings and falling 9-5 in the second.
Saturday morning’s game with Iowa City West was played on the main diamond at the University of Iowa’s softball complex, Bob Pearl Field.
Hartsock-Williams was very familiar with the field where she played for the Hawkeyes from 1990-92. Her daughter and Mid-Prairie alum Alex Rath, also played her Hawkeye home games at Pearl field from 2017 to 2020.
“It's always nostalgic, and it just makes me miss it,” Hartsock-Williams said. “It makes me glad I'm doing this again, because it feels good to be on that field standing there, with the history. It was fun to have the girls play on a field that's just beautiful and has a lot of history.”
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