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Wednesday, June 29, 2016
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Xavier High School - Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Saints batter Wash with 34 hits

The Xavier Saints have had a tough season so far with a 13-22 overall record, but they could be catching fire in time for the Class 4A playoffs that start next week.

Xavier collected 34 hits Tuesday night and hammered Washington, 11-1 and 12-4, in a Mississippi Valley Conference doubleheader at the Bob Erusha softball diamond at Xavier.

The Saints lost nine straight games earlier this month, but now they've won six of their last eight and are looking better.

Xavier combined lusty hitting, good pitching and tight defense to roll past the Warriors.

"They're putting it together," said Coach Nikki Gahring. "They're really coming together and things are starting to mesh. There's a whole lot of talk, a whole lot of energy."

The softball must have looked as big as a beachball to the Saints hitters Tuesday night. Olivia Richards was 6-for-6 in the doubleheader, Kailee Becker was 6-for-7 and Katie Langholz went 6-for-8 to lead the onslaught.

Richards and Stephanie Wehr drove in four runs in the doubleheader and Wehr had a game-winning double to end the opener by the mercy rule in the bottom of the sixth inning. Wehr was 4-for-7 overall, Cassie Himmelsbach was 3-for-5 and Jamie Feltes went 3-for-8.

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Cougars sweep error-prone Saints

Jacob Henry began Wednesday's doubleheader against Xavier with a 6.46 earned run average for the Kennedy Cougars, but the senior right-hander was in top form against the Saints.

Henry spun a five-hit shutout as Kennedy blanked the Saints, 6-0, in the second game of their Mississippi Valley Conference twinbill at Ken Charipar Field.

Kennedy took the first game, 15-11, when the mistake-prone Saints committed eight errors and walked 11 batters.

The sweep left the struggling Saints at 3-19 overall and 1-15 in the conference. Kennedy raised its marks to 15-8 overall and 9-7 in the league.

Henry, a senior right-hander, struck out four batters and lowered his ERA to 4.20, knocking more than two runs off his average. He kept the ball around the plate all night and walked only two batters, both in the third inning.

Kennedy jumped to a 10-1 lead in the top of the third inning in the opener, but the Saints sent 14 batters to the plate in the bottom of the third and scored eight runs to pull within 10-9.

The Cougars scored three times in the fifth inning for a 13-9 lead, but Xavier responded with two markers in the bottom of the fifth to pull within 13-11. Kennedy put the game away with two more runs in the seventh for the 15-11 victory in the three-hour marathon.

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Saints mired in 8-game losing streak

The Xavier softball team did some very good things during its doubleheader against Linn-Mar Tuesday night, but the bottom line unfortunately was the same story for the struggling Saints.

Linn-Mar swept the Mississippi Valley Conference games, 2-1 and 10-5, leaving Xavier with an eight-game losing streak and an unsightly overall record of 7-19.

Maria Steffen pitched a strong game for the Saints in the opener and deserved a better fate, but the Xavier right-fielder lost a fly ball in the sun to give Morgan Braughton a gift triple in the fourth inning and the Lions promptly scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly to snap a 1-1 tie.

The Saints put runners at first and third with one out in the top of the seventh, but Braughton struck out the next two batters to finish a complete game and the victory.

Christina Lincoln and Braughton had two hits for Linn-Mar in the opener.

Cassie Himmelsbach and Olivia Richards socked solo home runs for Xavier in the second game and the score was tied, 5-5, heading into the bottom of the fourth, but the Lions scored two runs in the fourth and added three more runs in the sixth to put the game away.

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Saints flub chance to upset Rams

Growing pains can be a terrible thing for a ballclub that is not accustomed to winning.

For Exhibit A, consider the Xavier baseball team.

The Saints had their chances to upset Dubuque Senior in a Mississippi Valley Conference doubleheader at Ken Charipar Field Monday night, but those growing pains got in the way and the Rams grabbed both contests, 7-5 and 4-3.

Dubuque Senior has the best record in the MVC with a 12-1 mark in conference games and Xavier has one of the worst at 1-13, yet the Saints could have won either game.

The little things kept the Saints from winning either affair.

In the opener, the Saints had runners at first and second in the bottom of the seventh when Sam Meyers put down a perfect bunt that should have pushed both runners into scoring position, but the runner at second base forgot there was also a runner at first, broke back toward second and was an easy out on a force play at third.

The Saints did not score in the inning and lost, 7-5.

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Hines helps Saints get 1st MVC victory

New Xavier baseball coach Bob Cataldo had never seen Jacob Hines pitch before this season, but he remembered Hines from middle school and decided to put him on the varsity this year as a sophomore.

Smart move.

Hines tossed a complete game Friday night as the Saints trimmed Linn-Mar, 4-2, in the second game of their doubleheader at the Linn-Mar field for their first Mississippi Valley Conference win of the season.

Hines allowed only three hits and kept the ball around the plate all night.

"I used to coach Regis eighth grade basketball and Jacob was one of the kids I coached in eighth grade," Cataldo said. "I knew what kind of competitor he is."

The Saints had dropped 11 straight conference games this season, including a 6-3 loss to Linn-Mar in the first game Friday, but they've showed a lot of improvement the last three weeks and finally got their reward.

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