Jennies softball defeats Reddies 2-0, advance to super regional

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Photo by Alex Agueros Sophomore Alex Leonhart (4) and the Jennies softball team walks to the South Recreation clubhouse among cheering fans and parents after their 2-0 victory over Henderson State. Leonhart had the game-winning hit, a two-run home run, in the sixth inning.

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Photo by Alex Agueros Sophomore Alex Leonhart (4) and the Jennies softball team walks to the South Recreation clubhouse among cheering fans and parents after their 2-0 victory over Henderson State. Leonhart had the game-winning hit, a two-run home run, in the sixth inning.
Photo by Alex Agueros
Sophomore Alex Leonhart (4) and the Jennies softball team walks to the South Recreation clubhouse among cheering fans and parents after their 2-0 victory over Henderson State. Leonhart had the game-winning hit, a two-run home run, in the sixth inning.

By ALEX AGUEROS
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — In an effort to avoid forecasted thunder storms, first pitch for Sunday’s regional semifinal game between Central Missouri softball and No. 3 Henderson State was rescheduled for 10 a.m. Senior starting pitcher Katie Shockley pitched seven scoreless innings, defeated and the Reddies by a score of 2-0 and celebrated at a local restaurant by lunch.
The victory was Shockley’s 10th straight win, and advanced UCM to the NCAA-II Super Regional.
Both offenses were held scoreless until the sixth inning.
During an otherwise commanding performance, Reddies starter Michelle Sorensen allowed a single to senior second basemen Jakki Prater. Prater advanced on a wild pitch to sophomore batter Alex Leonhart. The pitch slipped from Sorensen’s right hand and landed halfway between the pitcher’s circle and batter’s box.
Leonhart then lifted the 2-1 pitch over the left field fence to score the only runs of the game.
“I had a feeling she was throwing high because she was throwing high the previous two at bats,” Leonhart said. “I was just thinking keep my hands high and stay on top of the ball.”
Sorensen allowed five hits, a walk and struck out five batters in six innings and was tagged with the loss.
Shockley allowed a leadoff double and a walk to start the seventh inning but did not falter. Freshman left fielder Katie Giacone made a running catch on a Keirsten Seahorn fly ball near the warning track for the first out of the inning. Both runners advanced. The Reddies produced two weak pop ups to Jakki Prater and Ali Jo Rogers for the final outs.
Shockley allowed three hits in her third shutout of the season. Her 25 wins ties the single-season record set in 1991 by Kristen Grime. She started all three games of the Central Regional tournament.
Head coach Susan Anderson praised her senior pitcher’s leadership, and said she had “ice in her veins” during the week.
“She’s so poised, and she’s such a great leader out there for us,” Anderson said. “When she needs to get that pitch, she comes through with that pitch. There’s just something about seniors.”
While the senior pitcher set the tone in the circle, the Jennies offense has been powered by underclassmen that have both a flare for the dramatic and a chip on their shoulder.
Central Missouri scored multiple runs in the sixth inning of each tournament game, and Leonhart’s two-run shot Sunday was her second game-winning home run on the season to go along with two other walk-off hits.
“Little Alex (Leonhart), she has been clutch all season long and she’s been coming through with that big hit,” Anderson said. “She just loves those pressure situations, so I love seeing her come up to the plate.”
The team pairs late-inning strength with an underdog’s attitude.
Before winning the MIAA regular season and tournament titles, Central Missouri was picked to finish fourth in the preseason conference poll. National polls left UCM unranked until late April. The locker room door to the South Recreation clubhouse features a Jackie Chan meme that reads: “CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS … WITHOUT ONE PLAYER/HITTER OF THE WEEK … EVER.”
Despite the lack of regular season awards, the Jennies are the last MIAA team playing softball. Leonhart said the Jennies will try to carry their resilient play going into the next round.
“It’s been a great season,” Leonhart said. “We have such a, “don’t quit” attitude. We just persevere and just want to win … We’re going in there with all the confidence in the world.”
Central Missouri faces No. 1 seeded Augustana in a best-of-three series in Sioux Falls, S.D., Friday, May 15.