MASON CITY - The slipper fits onto Cinderella's foot for at least one more game for the Marshalltown softball team.
One season after making a miraculous run into the Iowa Girls' High School State Softball Tournament with a .500 record, the Bobcats were at it again on Thursday night.
Having lost to Mason City three out of four times during the regular season, the Bobcats flipped the script on the Mohawks' home field as Lauren Mazour pitched "the best game of her career" and Quinn Goodman's RBI single in the sixth inning put the Bobcats up for good in a 2-1 victory during Class 5A Region 4 quarterfinal action at the Mohawk Softball Complex.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
MHS pitcher Lauren Mazour, center, hugs catcher Taylor Wagner after the Bobcat senior batterymates combined to hold Mason City to six hits and one unearned run Thursday night at the Mohawk Softball Complex. The Bobcats advanced to the Class 5A regional semifinals with a 2-1 victory.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Bobcat pitcher Lauren Mazour jumps for joy after striking out Mason City’s Cortni Rush in the top of the seventh inning for the final out in the Bobcats’ 2-1 win over the Mohawks Thursday night in Mason City. Mazour pitched a gem in the circle, allowing one unearned run and six hits while striking out eight.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
MHS senior Madi Bellile puts down a bunt during the early stages of the Bobcats’ 2-1 win over Mason City on Thursday night. Bellile scored the tying run in the bottom of the first and then came across to score the winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning.
"I really do think it was," Mazour said when asked if it was the best pitching game of her career. "That whole senior thing really gets to you. It puts a little bit of fire in your butt. I didn't know I was pitching until we got here, which I think helped.
"Obviously, I wanted the ball in my hand as a senior. I wanted to lead my team. The girls played good defense behind me too."
It was just another storybook ending for the Bobcats (16-22) in a playoff game. This time, the large number of seniors didn't feel like ending their season just yet.
"The one thing I want to be known for as a coach is that my kids want to continue to play," Marshalltown coach Jeff Lamb said. "There is not a whole lot to do at this point. We will play one game at a time. Right now, our focus is on Valley. And we'll see what happens Saturday."
The Bobcats' next opportunity will come at 7 p.m. Saturday at Class 5A No. 8 West Des Moines Valley (24-15), a team that swept the Bobcats earlier this season by scores of 2-1 and 6-4.
"Every team we will play from here on out will be good," Lamb said. "We just have to keep playing the way we know we can play. It's good that (Valley) was here scouting, but when it comes down to it, we still can play how we play. We will try to control what we can control and play our game."
Mazour was the senior star that shined the most for MHS on Thursday. Having not pitched in the playoffs until the final state tournament game last year, Mazour got the ball against the Mohawks and responded with the biggest effort of her career.
Mason City was held to one unearned run on six hits and Mazour fanned eight in the victory.
"You can tell by the way she warms up if it's going to be a good game or not," said senior catcher Taylor Wagner, who has been catching Mazour her entire career. "She was zipping it in there like game speed. She is a senior, and she was ready to go.
"She pitched so well tonight. Everything was working for her. And even when it wasn't going well she came back and hit her spots. I couldn't be more proud of her."
The Mohawks (21-14) tripled to start the first and second innings but came away with only one run, a single tally in the first that was assisted by a Bobcat error.
Mazour (11-12) was at her best when things got dicey though. She came back with two strikeouts and a pop-out after Tricia Notermann began the second with a three-bagger. She left two more runners on base in the third and fifth and pitched around a two-out single in the seventh.
"When runners were in scoring position, she kind of said, 'Here it is, let's see what you got,' and didn't let them do much with it," Lamb said of Mazour. "She was outstanding, especially when she got herself into some tough situations."
The Mohawks put the first two runners on base in the fifth. Neither runner got past second base though as Mazour came back with a strikeout against Cortni Rush and flyout against Allison Scott. Then Brittany Sanchez, who beat the Bobcats with a walk-off hit in one of the Mohawks' wins Monday, struck out looking to end the threat. Rush also went down swinging to end the game in the top of the seventh, sending Mazour and the rest of the Bobcats into celebration.
"It's a pretty big win for us after not playing well against them on Monday," Goodman said. "I guess we really want to continue on. We have a big group of seniors. None of us want the season to end."
Madi Bellile recorded a one-out infield single in the first and then sprinted to second on the same play after she noticed no one was covering second base. After a Wagner flyout, Cassidy Blackford reached on an error, which also allowed Bellile to come racing home.
Bellile began the sixth by reaching on another Mohawk error and then Lexy Pederson walked Wagner. Lamb asked Blackford to bunt with no one out but a pop-up resulted in a 1-3 double play.
Goodman came up with two outs and hit a flare to left field that plated Bellile as the eventual game-winning run.
"I was kind of down because of the double play, but Lauren looked at me and said, 'Quinn, you can do it,'" Goodman said. "All day (Pederson) had been pitching me inside, and I was behind it. I knew I had to swing a little earlier and get that inside pitch right off the bat."
Lamb added, "Cassidy puts that bunt down 99 percent of the time. This time she didn't. We are an aggressive team. It still gave us a runner in scoring position. It put us in a spot where we had to have the hit, and Quinn came through for us. I think everyone in this lineup is ready to pick each other up. It wasn't Cassidy's night tonight, but it could be her night Saturday."
The Bobcats recorded just three hits at the plate against Pederson, who the Bobcats had not seen this year in any of the four meetings. Pederson came into the game with a 1.66 earned run average but dropped to 7-5 on the season after the defeat.
"It didn't feel like a regional game tonight because it was against a conference team," Mazour said. "It's big to beat a conference team in this type of game. We haven't seen Lexy all year but we've seen her in the past. We didn't have a legit gameplan coming in, but we were very patient with her and hit the ball when we needed to."
Marshalltown beat Mason City 10-0 in the first meeting of the year but the Mohawks won the final three games of the series, including two narrows wins in Mason City on Monday. Wagner said Goodman is one of the most talented hitters she has ever played with. "She was really due," Wagner said of Goodman's go-ahead single. "It was time for her finally get her hit and be the hero. She is one of the most talented hitters I have ever met in my life. She did what she is supposed to do." Marshalltown's three hits Thursday were recorded by Goodman, Madi Bellile and Kaley Mead (a double). The other semifinal in Region 4 Saturday will be Des Moines Roosevelt (7-26) at No. 9 Southeast Polk (25-14). That winner will play the Marshalltown-Valley winner in the regional final at West Des Moines Valley at 7 p.m. Tuesday.