MUSCATINE — Three quarters of the way through the regular-season stretch of Region XI play, Indian Hills is on the verge of accomplishing something very special. IHCC returned to Kent Stein Park, site of next week's Region XI softball tournament, and moved within one win of earning the tournament's top seed and within four wins of a perfect regular-season run through the region.
Five days after surviving weather and a tenacious Muscatine squad to earn a 16-14, eight-inning win, Indian Hills earned the more conventional 2-0 victory on Tuesday to complete the road doubleheader sweep of the Cardinals. Former Ottumwa Bulldog ace Mandi Moore earned her team-leading 10th win in the pitching circle for the Warriors with the complete-game 9-2 win for IHCC, moving the Warriors to 12-0 in Region XI.
While Mandi Moore set down the Cardinals in order in the first three innings, IHCC gave itself opportunities to break through stranding four base runners heading into the fourth. Kaylea Rusch, who was making a second return trip to her hometown, finally put the Warriors ahead with an RBI infield single in the fourth that gave Indian Hills a 1-0 lead.
IHCC doubled the lead in the fifth, scoring its second run on a sacrifice fly after loading the bases. Moore and the Warriors' defense continued to stymie Muscatine as the Cardinals stranded a potential tying run at second base in the bottom of the fourth before a sixth strikeout by Moore ended a stress-free fifth.
Indian Hills added an unearned run in the sixth off an error by the Cardinals, giving Moore a 3-0 lead to work with. The former OHS Bulldog kept it rolling, allowing just one hit over the first six innings of work.
IHCC finally broke it open in the seventh, knocking out Muscatine starting pitcher Madison Jerome with a four-run rally to open a seven-run lead. Two more runs finished off the six-run, six-hit final inning and all but sealed the Warriors' 12th-straight regional win. Despite giving up a two-run homer to DeAysha Walker, Moore was able to put away the Cardinals (33-9, 7-7) in a much-less dramatic final inning.
Indian Hills (26-9, 12-0) will see Muscatine later this week on "Sophomore Day" at Hellyer Field as the Warriors wrap up the regular season Friday with a doubleheader against the Cardinals starting at 2 p.m. First, however, IHCC looks to wrap up the regular season regional title today needing one win in a doubleheader at Iowa Western to clinch first place outright in Region XI.