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McCarthy, IowaGrant outduel Boscobel 21 in D4 regional final
ig sb stevens
IowaGrant senior shortstop Hannah Stevens attempts to turn a double play during the Panthers 21 regional final victory over Boscobel Friday afternoon.

COBB — The nerves were clearly evident in the top of the first inning at Friday’s WIAA Division 4 softball regional final.

The host and top-seeded Iowa–Grant Panthers committed back-to-back errors to start the game, but overcame their shaky start to knock off fourth-seeded Boscobel 2–1 and send the Panthers to their first softball sectional since 2003, Deanna Fulton’s first season as Iowa–Grant’s head coach.

Boscobel’s Olivia Grassel and Alyssia Davis reached on back-to-back Iowa–Grant errors and the Panthers were in real trouble when Hailey Bray reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases.

Leah Wacker singled to left field to give the visitors an early 1–0 lead and the Bulldogs were still threatening with runners on every base.

Iowa–Grant ace senior Maranda McCarthy worked her magic to get her teammates off the hook. McCarthy struck out Rachel Yahn, induced a pop up to second base and struck out Danielle Ernst to end the inning without further damage.
McCarthy (20–3) was fabulous the rest of the day, finishing with nine strikeouts and didn’t issue a walk. She allowed just four hits the rest of the way en route to her 20th win of the season. She also pitched out of another bases loaded jam in the top of the sixth inning.

Another Panther error, an Ernst single and a hit batter loaded the bases with two outs, but McCarthy again fired an inning-ending strikeout to prevent the Bulldogs from adding to their lead.

Iowa–Grant finally broke through against Grassel, who pitched six straight shutouts earlier in the season, in the sixth thanks to some shaky fielding by the Bulldogs.

Sophomore Trinity Spurley walked and senior left fielder Taylor Liddicoat single. Then senior catcher Emma Liddicoat singled to shortstop on Spurley scored from second on an overthrow of first base.

Senior shortstop Hannah Stevens hit a deep sacrifice fly to center field that allowed Taylor Liddicoat to scored the eventually game-winning run.

Senior Malery Peat singled to put runners on the corner, but Grassel got out of the jam with an inning-ending strikeout.
Bray was hit by a pitch to lead off the Boscobel seventh inning, but McCarthy induced a pop up and a pair of ground outs to end the game.

“It was a close game that came down to the wire,” said Fulton. “The Panthers stuck together and believed in our game. This team is truly a team and one that deserves to be regional champs. You never know which player is going to deliver the big hit or score the winning run or make the big defensive play. As a coach, I couldn’t be prouder.”

Iowa–Grant (21–3) went on to defeat Wisconsin Heights 13–3 in a D4 sectional semifinal Tuesday afternoon. The Panthers will now travel to Darlington to face Juda/Albany in a D4 sectional final Thursday afternoon at 5 p.m.

WIAA Division 3 regional semifinal
#1 Iowa–Grant 10, #9 Darlington 0

(from Wednesday, May 24 @ Cobb)
Darlington     000    00        —   0   2  5
Iowa–Grant    212    05         — 10   9  0    
Leading hitters — IG: Emma Liddicoat 3x3, Hannah Stevens 2x3, Maranda McCarthy 2x3. 2B — D: Bethany McDonald, Taylor Crist; IG: Stevens 2, Lexi Busse. HR — IG: McCarthy.
W — Maranda McCarthy (19–3, 7IP, 2H, 0R, 9K, 2BB). L — Paulson (4+IP, 9H, 10R, 7ER, 1K, 0BB).

WIAA Division 3 regional final
#1 Iowa–Grant 2, #5 Boscobel 1

(from Friday, May 24 @ Cobb)
Boscobel       100    000    0    —  1  5  2
Iowa–Grant   000    002    x     —  2  4  3    
Leading hitters — IG: Emma Liddicoat 3x3, Hannah Stevens 2x3, Maranda McCarthy 2x3. 2B — D: Bethany McDonald, Taylor Crist; IG: Stevens 2, Lexi Busse. HR — IG: McCarthy.
W — Maranda McCarthy (20–3, 7IP, 5H, 1R, 0ER, 9K, 0BB). L — Olivia Grassel (6IP, 4H, 2R, 0ER, 7K, 3BB).