CEDAR RAPIDS — When Tyler Sampson came to the plate at the pivotal moment, one thought ruled her mind:
Don’t strand them.
Instead, she cleared them.
Sampson’s first career home run was a grand slam, a tie-breaking poke to left-center field that completed Class 4A 12th-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier’s 2-1, 5-1 Mississippi Valley Conference softball sweep of No. 11 Iowa City High Tuesday night at Bob Erusha Field.
“I came up thinking that I couldn’t leave my teammates on base,” Sampson said. “I wanted to put it in play and hit a gap.”
She hit a gap, all right. A gap beyond the left-field light pole. It capped a five-run rally that came a half-inning after City High had taken the lead.
It started with a one-out walk to Kristen Winter. After a wild pitch, McKenna Miller delivered a game-tying double. Singles by Shelby Woods and Caitlin Kray loaded the bases, then Sampson unloaded them.
“I was excited,” she said. “I was happy for the team, happy that I could help them out.”
Xavier (10-3 overall, 9-3 MVC) had been relatively quiet at the plate most of the night before the late eruption. The Saints had three hits in the opener, then just two hits in the nightcap before their last time at bat.
“It’s just all mental,” said Xavier Coach Brian Erbe. “We’ve been struggling a little, but we’ve played some very good teams.”
Caitlin Kray was 4-for-6 Tuesday, including a two-run single with two outs in the bottom of the first inning of Game 1.
Kray missed some action last week after aggravating a back injury she suffered during basketball season.
“I’ve been practicing my hitting a lot,” Kray said. “It’s one of my main focuses.”
City High (10-3, 7-3) got an RBI single from Virginia Johnson in the first game, then Molly Prybil’s RBI single in the top of the sixth inning gave the Little Hawks a short-lived 1-0 lead in Game 2.