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Softball: Richards edges Shepard

Updated: June 15, 2014 6:39AM



Sara Kiziak wasn’t nearly as efficient in Richards’ 7-6 South Suburban Red victory Tuesday over Shepard as she was in shutting the Astros out earlier in the season.

But clutch? On two separate occasions, there wasn’t a cooler customer in the ballpark.

In the fifth inning, Shepard led 4-3 and had a chance to extend with the bases loaded and only one out. Kiziak bailed herself out by striking out one batter and getting the next on a popout.

In the seventh, the Astros had rallied from a 7-4 deficit and had the tying run on base with one out. Kiziak froze the final two batters on called third strikes, and in the process put another Richards conference title on ice.

Molly Pohrebny had three hits, while Jordan Battels, Sara Tobin and Kiziak all drove in two runs for the Bulldogs (17-6, 14-2). Kiziak struck out seven in improving to 13-4.

Breanna Graffeo and Jalyn Stepney each socked home runs for Shepard (16-7, 10-6).

It wasn’t easy for Kiziak this time around.

“(Shepard) came out hitting. They were ready to play (Tuesday),” she said.

Her answer was speed-control.

“A lot of my pitches were changeups,” Kiziak said. “My changeup was working very well for me. I just tried to keep the balls on the corners.”

Graffeo’s homer started a second-inning three-run outburst for Shepard that also included an RBI single by Alyssa DeChene and a sacrifice fly by Bryanna Cross.

Richards got two runs back in the third against Shepard pitcher Stephanie Brand via an RBI triple by Tobin and a run-scoring single by Kiziak.

Stepney cleared the fence for the Astros to make it 4-2 in the fourth. Emily Wetzel’s RBI single got Richards back to within a run in the fifth.

Shepard hurt itself with an error in each of the innings that Richards scored, but the Astros had an even tougher time defensively in the sixth, committing two official miscues and mental mistake. Richards jumped on the situation, scoring four times, the key hits a two-run single by Battels and a run-producing single by Kiziak.

“I was really nervous, but I just knew I had to keep my composure and not worry about who was on base,” Battels said of her opposite-field stroke that dropped in several feet inside the right-field line.

Shepard’s seventh-inning rally included singles by Jenna Huisenga and Melissa Kelly and a double by Graffeo. But the two takes on strike three at the end were rally crushers.

“That’s a hard way to go down,” Shepard coach Kelsey Clifford said. “But they battled (at the plate) the entire time. When you have things like unearned runs and errors, and when teams can capitalize, there is no excuse for that.

“It was a good game for both teams going into the playoffs, especially with both being in the same sectional.”



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