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Saturday, April 29, 2017
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Metro Sports Report

Nearad tops national stats again for KCC

FORT DODGE - Taylor Nearad led the nation in four categories last season when she was named the National Junior College Player of the Year.

The Kirkwood star is doing it again this season.

Nearad went 5-for-8 Sunday with a double, home run, five runs scored and three RBIs as the second-ranked Eagles swept a conference doubleheader from 15th-ranked Iowa Central, 9-0 and 13-3, in Fort Dodge.

Nearad leads all NJCAA Division II players this season in hits (70), runs (69), doubles (23) and triples (7). She also ranks fifth in RBIs (53) and sixth in home runs (12) and is hitting .511.

Last year, Nearad led the nation in homers (30), RBIs (129), hits (145) and runs (114) and ranked second in doubles (31), third in triples (11) and third in batting average (.602).

Kirkwood has numerous players on the national leader boards again this season after sweeping Iowa Central.

Maddie Hansen leads the nation in RBIs (62) and ranks third in homers (13). Lexi Kinnaird leads the nation in pitching victories (17) and strikeouts (179).

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Hansen swats 2 homers as Eagles sweep

A member of the Kirkwood softball team was positioned behind the outfield fence Friday afternoon when Maddie Hansen took batting practice with the Eagles.

The unnamed player kept extremely busy, chasing countless home runs as  Hansen swatted a series of long fly balls over the padded barrier in left field, left-center and center.

Hansen carried her sweet swing into Saturday's doubleheader against Southwestern Community College as the Eagles swept the twinbill, 6-2 and 12-2, in conference action.

Hansen, an All-American catcher, belted two homers and drove in four runs in the doubleheader as Kirkwood raised its records to 33-2 overall and 11-1 in the league.

Hansen is hitting .529 with 12 homers and 59 RBIs this season. She leads Kirkwood in all three departments and ranks first in the nation in RBIs, fourth in home runs and 11th in batting average.

The Cedar Rapids Jefferson grad is getting plenty of competition for the team lead in all three departments, but right now she's on top of  the pack on the power-hitting club.

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Kinnaird gets her K's for Eagles

Lexi Kinnaird does not want to jinx herself by peeking at the national stats for junior college pitchers, but she'd certainly like the numbers if she took a look.

The Kirkwood sophomore leads all NJCAA Division II hurlers by a wide margin in strikeouts with 154 K's in 100 innings and she ranks second in the country with 15 wins.

They do not keep a stat for strikeout-to-walk ratio, but if they did Kinnaird would lead that category as well. Remarkably, she's walked only seven batters in 100 innings, an average of one pass every 14  frames.

Kinnaird (15-2, 1.61 ERA) showed pinpoint control again Thursday as the second-ranked Eagles rallied to top Southeastern Community College, 4-2, in the first game of a doubleheader at Kirkwood.

The Eagles (31-2) also rallied for an 8-4 victory in the nightcap.

Kinnaird fanned eight batters and did not walk a soul in the 4-2 verdict in Game 1 for Coach Joe Yegge's club.

Kinnaird struck out 163 batters and walked 43 in 160 innings last year, so she's well ahead of that pace this season. Her control was good last year, but now it's fantastic.

She said she's not doing anything different this year, but the numbers have been phenomenal.

"It's really something that Yegge has pushed from the beginning, pounding the zone and getting ahead early," she said. "So I think that's been my thought process for every at-bat.

"That's really helped me a lot this year, but nothing special."

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Opiola, Promes join MSR softball league

Adara Opiola and Marissa Promes, a pair of outstanding softball players during their high school careers, have joined the new Iowa Women's Softball League for this summer.

Opiola, currently a freshman at Northern Iowa, was a three-time all-state selection during her prep days at Iowa City West, where she finished with 32 home runs, 195 RBIs and a .464 career batting average.

Opiola finished her career at Iowa City West in 2016 by hitting .479 with 11 homers and 64 RBIs and was named first team all-state for the third consecutive year.

(CLICK HERE TO REGISTER)

Opiola has played sparingly at Northern Iowa this season. She has appeared in six games and is hitting .200 with one RBI.

Promes, now a sophomore at Indian Hills Community College, was a star pitcher at Greene County High School and Jefferson/Scranton during her  prep days. She compiled a glossy 72-13 record in high school with 723 strikeouts in 759.1 innings pitched.

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Long helps Eagles split with DMACC

The Kirkwood Eagles needed a starting pitcher to go deep into a ballgame to salvage the final game of a four-game series with DMACC Tuesday at the Kirkwood field.

Peyton Long answered the call.

Long tossed eight strong innings as the Eagles trimmed DMACC, 4-2, in the second game of Tuesday's twinbill.

DMACC won the first game, 5-2.

Long allowed only one run on six hits, with six strikeouts and two walks. He threw 109 pitches and gave the bullpen a much-needed rest in  the last game of the series.

Kirkwood lost the first three games of the series, and none of their starting pitchers lasted more than 3 1/3 innings in any of those games.

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