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MCDONALD'S SWNEWS4U GAME OF THE WEEK (WIAA D4 Softball): Iowa–Grant 1, Riverdale 0
Sophomores Lily Pettit and Bentley Cutts combine on a one-hit shutout to lead Panthers to a WIAA D4 regional title
Iowa–Grant players mob sophomore pitcher Bentley Cutts (11) in celebration following the final out of Thursday’s 1–0 WIAA Division 4 regional final victory at number two seed Riverdale.

WIAA D4 SOFTBALL: Iowa–Grant 1, Riverdale 0

By Steve Prestegard, The Platteville Journal

MUSCODA — Based on their two regular-season meetings Thursday’s Division 4 softball regional final between third-seed Iowa–Grant and second-seed Riverdale figured to be a pitcher’s duel.

But instead of starting Bentley Cutts in the pitcher’s circle, as the Panthers did in their losses to Riverdale on consecutive days earlier in May, Iowa–Grant started fellow sophomore Lily Pettit, bringing in Cutts in the sixth inning.

Pettit and Cutts combined to allow one hit and one other baserunner on an error the entire game. Iowa–Grant scored the game’s only run on an error with two out in the top of the seventh to beat Riverdale 1–0.

The Panthers won their regional for the second consecutive season to set up a sectional-semifinal matchup at SWAL champion and number one seed and number one ranked Boscobel (20–0) for the second consecutive season Tuesday.

“Winning a regional title in my first year at Iowa–Grant is a pretty special feeling I can say that,” said IG head coach Brian Coulthard. “The girls have been fun to coach and my two assistants, Bob McCarthy and Todd Kemnitzer have been great help. I know that they have the same goals for the team that I have. Another coach told me the other day after we had won the regional that the first title of any sort is the hardest, now that is out of the way I guess we work on sectionals.”

The hard-luck losing pitcher was Riverdale senior Carlie Jo Brownlee, who gave up just four hits, two walks and the unearned run, striking out nine.

Iowa–Grant had scoring chances before its lone run. In the second, Elyse Linscheid reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second and went to third on a passed ball, but was left at third base. Two innings later, Linscheid doubled and Makayla Pilling singled, but both were left in scoring position.

Pilling led off the seventh inning with a walk, then stole second and went to third on a groundout to shortstop. Evie Whitaker then hit a ground ball, but Riverdale first baseman Morgan Elliott juggled the throw to first. Whitaker was initially called out to end the inning, but after an appeal from IG coach Brian Coulthard and an umpires’ conference Whitaker was ruled safe, scoring Pilling.

Cutts (8–7) worked a one–two–three bottom of the seventh for her ninth win of the season to set up the third meeting with Boscobel, which beat IG 3–2 and 2–0 during the regular season.

Pettit struck out five and allowed just one hit her five innings of work.

“Pitching Lily was our choice as Bentley had already faced Riverdale twice and we were guessing that they would prepare for her again,” said Coulthard. “We also wanted to use Lily’s control pitching to keep them off balance and off the bases. She has walked less than one batter per seven innings pitched this year. We felt if we played clean defense we would be in a position to win at the end of the game. 

“Making the switch back to Bentley in the sixth inning also worked to our advantage as her faster speed now affected their batters.”

Cutts, Linscheid, Pilling and Whitaker had the Panthers’ four hits, all singles.

The winner of Tuesday’s sectional semifinal will advance to face either two seed Horicon (19–6) or eight seed Orfordville Parkview (10–12) in Thursday’s sectional final at Horicon. 

After a first-round bye, Iowa–Grant opened the WIAA playoffs last Tuesday with a 5–0 shutout of number six seed Fennimore in a D4 regional semifinal.

Cutts struck out 13 and scattered five hits in the complete game shutout. She also went 3-for-3 and drove in two of IG’s run for a dominating all-around performance.

Iowa–Grant broke a scoreless tie with four runs in the bottom of the third.

Makaya McCarthy walked to start the rally and Whitaker singled up the middle.

After a strikeout, Lexi Vavricka reached on an error to allow McCarthy score the game’s first run.

Then, Cutts singled through the right side to drive in Whitaker and Vavricka. Linscheid added an RBI ground out later in the inning.

The Panthers added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth on a sac fly by McCarthy.

WIAA Division 4 Regional Final
No. 3 Iowa–Grant 1, No. 2 Riverdale 0
(from Thursday, May 26 @ Muscoda)
Iowa–Grant...000 000  1   —  1   3  1
Riverdale....000 000  0   —  0   1  2
Leading hitters — IG: Makayla Pilling 1x2 (R). 2B — IG: Elyse Linscheid. 
W — Bentley Cutts (8–7, 2IP, 0H, 0R, 3K, 0BB). L — Carlie Jo Brownlee (7IP, 3H, 1R, 0ER, 10K, 2BB).

WIAA Division 4 Regional Semifinal
No. 3 Iowa–Grant 5,  No. 6 Fennimore 0
(from Tuesday, May 24 @ Cobb)
Iowa–Grant...000 000  0   —  0   5  3
Fennimore.....004 001 x   —  5   8  0
Leading hitters — F: Isabelle James 2x3, Jenna James 2x3; IG: Bentley Cutts 3x3 (2RBI). 
W — Bentley Cutts (7–7, 7IP, 5H, 0R, 13K, 3BB). L — Brynn Peterson (6–11, 6IP, 8H, 5R, 2ER, 8K, 1BB).