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Carlisle prevails on walk-off HR

Kennedy Preston knew has soon as the ball hit the bat that she had sent Carlisle into the Class 4A state championship round.

“It hit the center of my bat, and man, it flew,” Preston said of her late heroics.

With two outs, the top-ranked Tigers trailed No. 6 West Delaware by one run in the bottom of the eighth. That’s when Preston struck with a walk-off two run blast — her fifth of the season — giving Carlisle a dramatic 7-6 victory.

“This is the best feeling I’ve ever had,” Preston said. “We put in work after last season. We choked last year, I’m not going to lie. Now we’re back in that championship game, and it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

“I thought I was going to puke. I couldn’t breathe.”

The Tigers (37-3 overall) will now face third-ranked North Scott, who was also a walk-off winner. The 4A championship will be on Friday at 5:45 p.m. on Kruger Seeds Field.

Carlisle, which is making its 17th state trip overall, is seeking its fifth state title in school history, with the last coming in 2010.

The Tigers had a 4-1 lead after five innings of play, but the Hawks (31-11) plated four in the sixth to take a 5-4 advantage. Carlisle responded with a run to knot things up in the bottom of the frame.

West Delaware put the pressure on Carlisle, scoring a run in the top of the eighth, setting up Preston’s heroics.

Junior Delaney Schnathorst and senior Allyx Lee had three hits each. Schnathorst drove in two runs and scored twice.

“It was easily the most exhilarating, yet horrifying moment of my life,” Schnathorst said. “The emotions, the atmosphere, was insane. The fear that we could lose, and everything we had worked for in the off season, in the early mornings, the dreams of holding that trophy on Friday night, would be gone in a heartbeat.

“Kennedy hitting the walk off home run was a moment I will never forget.

“Being in this state championship means everything to me, and to my team. I cannot wait to be on field for the state title on Friday night with my teammates. I’ve never been more proud to be a Wildcat.”

Preston added a double and Kennady Prensoil had two hits as well.

Molly Hoekstra earned the win for the Tigers, striking out seven batters and allowing seven hits.

Claire Demmer had a double for the Hawks and drove in four runs. Macey Kelitsch had two hits.

West Delaware will play Charles City on Friday at 4:45 p.m. on Iowa Central Field in the Class 4A third place game.

CARLISLE 7, WEST DELAWARE 6

West Delaware 100 004 01 — 6 7 3

Carlisle 202 001 02 — 7 14 3

WP–Molly Hoekstra (8IP, 7H, 2ER, 1BB, 7SO); LP–Macey Kleitsch (7ªIP, 14H, 6ER, 1BB, 6SO); 2B–WD: Claire Demmer; C: Meredith Hoffman, Kennedy Preston; HR–C: Kennedy Preston; SACF–WD: Demmer; SACB–WD: Heather Heims; C: Alyvia Dubois; SB–WD: Heims; C: Allyx Lee, Dubois, Delaney Schnathorst.