The Burlington High School softball team officially celebrated Senior Night on July 1 against Davenport West.
Makaylin Powers and Alivia Fawcett decided to have an encore performance during Thursday's Class 4A regional quarterfinal game against Fort Madison.
This time, the sequel surpassed the original.
Powers led off the game with a home run and Fawcett followed with a solo blast of her own as the Grayhounds rolled to an 11-1, five-inning win over the Bloodhounds at Wagner Field.
BHS (22-16) advances to a regional final to face third-ranked North Scott (24-14) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Eldridge.
Fort Madison ends the season with a 14-18 record.
Given one more chance to play on their home field, Powers and Fawcett created one more memory to last a lifetime.
"It's bittersweet. It's awesome that I hit a home run, but it would be nice to play here one more time," said Powers, who broke her own school record with her 10th long ball of the season. "It's mostly about getting contact and getting runs for my team. I got my job done."
"I'm glad that we were able to play this last game like we did and come out strong start to finish. We were able to work as a team and keep each other up for this last game," Fawcett said.
After Adessa Brandenburg set the Bloodhounds down in order in the top of the first, Powers wasted no time in staking the Grayhounds to a lead they would not relinquish. Powers took a Cassie Powers pitch on the outside portion of the plate and drove it over the left-field fence.
Just like that, the Grayhounds were off and running.
"That was very big. We needed that little jump-start to get things rolling. We definitely got it going after that," said Makaylin Powers, an Iowa State recruit. "I was mostly just trying to hit the ball solid and it just happened to be in the right place. She threw it up high a bunch of times and then she threw it outside , but in the middle and I was able to get ahold of it."
"That really got us going, starting off the game like that is really crucial to how we keep going throughout the whole lineup and throughout the rest of the game," Fawcett said.
"Nothing is better than starting a game off with a home run from your leadoff hitter. That's one of the reasons I like to have Makaylin lead off for us. She's electric for us when she's on in terms of hitting the ball in the gap and hitting home runs. That was her 10th home run. That was a great way to start. Then we followed up with a run," BHS coach Larry Heath said.
Bryanna Mehaffy followed with a bunt single, the first of her four hits on the night. She scored on an error on a bunt by Lydia Allen-Barnes to give BHS a 2-0 lead.
Carley McGinity, who was 3-for-3, singled to open the bottom of the second and Powers doubled her in two outs later. Powers trotted home on a single by Mehaffy as the Grayhounds doubled their pleasure.
Fort Madison cut the BHS lead to 4-1 in the third. Vanessa Golowach singled and later scored on an error. BHS rightfielder Mackenzie Blythe helped hold the Bloodhounds to one run, making a sensational over the shoulder catch on a ball hit into the right-center field gap by Mylee Featheringill to end the inning.
"It was a really good hit by the batters. I appreciate my centerfielder, Makaylin Powers, with helping me locate the ball. She was basically telling me, 'Back. Back. Back. Right there.' She had my backup, too, in case I missed it," Blythe said. "It's a really big thing. It helps with the team chemistry and all of that. It means a lot to us."
"I think what was really important was there were a couple situations defensively. Like Mackenzie (Blythe) making that nice catch in right. That gets down and the game is 4-2. She made a great run on it and caught it. Then we had another double plays with Norton stepping on second and throwing to first. We almost had another one, but we didn't get it," Heath said.
Fawcett followed with her fourth home run of the season to open the third inning.
"I have been focusing on picking out a spot before the pitch is even delivered. I was aiming for a gap left-center and I hit it. I was focused on where I needed to hit the ball and make contact," Fawcett said.
"They hit that home run and it changed the complexion of the game," Fort Madison coach Jared Rehm said.
Fort Madison struggled handling bunts all season, and this game was no exception.
"I think the key was the bunting. The bunting put them in situations they didn't want to be in. We got the bunt down and that was very important. They made some mistakes and that compounded things for them and we got some hits in between here and there," Heath said.
"Fielding bunts has been our Achilles heel all season," Rehm said. "Burlington scouted us against Davenport West and they witnessed the same thing. I knew they would try to expose our weaknesses and they did.. They did what they had to."
BHS ended the game early when Katie Baltisberger doubled in Sami Watts and McGinity, then scored on a wild pitch.
BHS now turns it attention to the Lancers. The teams split a Mississippi Athletic Conference doubleheader on June 25 at North Scott. Burlington won the opener, 6-2. North Scott took the nightcap, 5-0. This one will be for all the marbles and a spot in Tuesday's regional final.
"We're not going to take them lightly, either. We're very positive coming into Saturday's game. I feel like we have a pretty good shot," Blythe said.
"We are definitely going to prepare for that. North Scott is not easy by any means. We're going to make sure to practice really hard and make sure we do what we did tonight and make solid contact on the ball," Powers said.
"It's definitely going to be a challenge. They have good pitching and good hitting. It we come out with the same intensity as we did tonight, I think we'll have a good game and good results," Fawcett said.
"We had a very, very difficult game with North Scott. They are very, very tough. They have three really good pitchers. They have the one sophomore and she's very good. She's a lefty and she presents some problems for us. We're going to have to work at what we've been doing. We have to get the ball in play and make teams make plays. If we can do that and get some hits in between, good things will happen," Heath said. "Everything is zero and zero in tournament. I don't care what round you advance to, it's all even. We're going to have to play very good defense. We're going to have to hit the ball. We're going to have to put all three phases together. Hopefully if we do that we will come out of there with a win."
WP — Adessa Brandenburg (12-6). LP — Cassie Powers (7-8). Leading hitters — Burlington: Bryanna Mehaffy 4-4, Carley McGinity 3-3, Makaylin Powers 2-2. 2B — Powers, Nevaeh Ertz (BHS), Katie Baltisberger (BHS). 3B — Mehaffy. HR — Powers, Alivia Fawcett (BHS). RBI — Burlington: Powers 2, Mehaffy 2, Baltisberger 2, Lydia Allen-Barnes 1, Fawcett 1,.
Records: Fort Madison 14-18, Burlington 22-16.