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field. Freshman catcher Leah French reached second base on an errant throw over the first baseman’s head.
With runners on second and third, junior Maddie Reiter hit a two RBI single to right field to take a 3 0 lead. As Prescott con tinued to add on runs methodically throughout the second, fifth and sixth innings of the game, junior star pitcher Taylor Graf con tinued to produce a gem from the circle.
Graf, who pitched the Cardinals to a state championship game appearance last season, has found her groove in the last 7 10 days of action. She gave up one run against Altoona and pitched the complete game while striking out eight batters in the victory.
“Taylor (Graf) is lights out right now,” Johnson said. “That would have been her fifth straight shutout. She had 28 consecu tive – it’s not just Taylor (Graf), in 28 straight innings we haven’t given up an earned run.”
Prescott has played ten games so far this season, has won eight of them, and in seven of those wins, Graf was in the circle for the Cardinals. Of course, there are other capable pitchers on the ros ter, but Johnson has shown that in the biggest games of the year, Graf is the go to ace.
While Graf is outstanding on her own, it helps to have a high softball IQ catcher behind the plate. That’s exactly what Johnson and Graf have when French puts on the gear and gets behind the dish. Johnson spoke about how French changes the game.
“For a freshman, she’s solid,” Johnson said. “Leah’s arm strength is, she can shut down teams just because of how strong of an arm she has. She’s doing it and it’s been awesome. Our other catcher Addie Raebel, she’s solid too. We have two solid catchers.”
It seems that with less than a month left in the regular season, Prescott is hitting its stride and playing its best softball of the sea son. The roster has bounced back after the Ellsworth loss and Johnson said the team’s energy is electric.
“They’re one motivated group right now,” Johnson said. “They’re such a great group to be around and they’re so fun to be around. They work so hard and I don’t have to ask them to do something, they just do it. It’s a special group to be around and they’ve got some big goals. It’s fun, especially when we’re play
ing this well. How they responded after a tough loss, we can’t re spond any better than this.”
Prescott has had so many things go right for them as of late; one exception is the health of junior Finley Magee, who has pulled her hamstring twice in less than a month. She is one of Prescott’s best hitters and needs to be healthy entering the play offs. Because of that, she is batting only and has yet to return to her semi regular position of first base. Johnson provided an up date regarding Magee’s status.
“She will tell you she’s healthy, but we’re trying to take it slow because she has pulled her hamstring twice,” Johnson said. “She is such a good hitter so we’re trying to take it easy with her and just let her bat right now. She’s a DH and first baseman anyway, so we’re trying to ease her into it. We need her for the stretch run more importantly.”
Prescott, now 8 2 overall and 6 1 in Middle Border Confer ence games, is in first place in the conference standings. The biggest game of the season thus far will be on Thursday, May 5, when the Cardinals travel to Baldwin Woodville for a game that will significantly alter the conference standings. That game is slated to begin at 5 p.m.