MOUNT ZION – Dayna Kennedy would like to spray more shots to the opposite field.

It's what made her decisive three-run homer in Game 1 against Effingham even more satisfying.

With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Kennedy belted her first walk-off jack over the right field fence in Game 1 and Mount Zion swept the Hearts in a doubleheader 7-5 and 12-5 on Thursday.

“I thought she hung it over the plate too much,” Kennedy said of her home run. “It was pretty exciting because there were two outs and I just wanted it to go over and the wind helped out. I rounded first and didn't think it was going to go over.”

It was a needed shot in the arm for Mount Zion, which was reeling from Wednesday's 14-1 loss at St. Joseph-Ogden and seemed to be letting the first game against Effingham slip away.

Effingham's Chloe Funneman tied it up 4-4 in the fifth with an RBI drive to left field while teammate Alissa Kersey unleashed a dramatic solo shot over the right field wall to go up 5-4 in the top of the seventh.

But Mount Zion kept its poise, even after the first two batters lined out to center field.

The Braves stayed alive and set up Kennedy's game-winning homer with a walk and a line drive off the center fielder's glove.

“It was good to be back,” Mount Zion coach Greg Blakey said. “We didn't hit or pitch very well against St. Joe. It was a nice bounce back and conference win, and we might see them down the road in the postseason.”

It helped electrify Mount Zion's offense for the second game.

The Braves (14-4, 4-2 Apollo Conference) rallied again from an early 4-2 deficit and hammered the Hearts (3-7, 0-6) with 13 hits, including a pair of hits and RBIs from Kennedy.

Kennedy finished the day 3-for-8 with five RBIs and four runs.

Mount Zion never looked back after RBI hits by Hannah Watts and Ruby Brown in the third for the 6-4 lead.

The Braves opened the floodgates with six more runs by the end of the fifth, a stretch that included a solo home run by Alli Davis.

Bill's take

Freshman hurlers

Mount Zion needed to muster all the offense it could to support a pair of freshman pitchers: Chayse Ramey in Game 1 and Audrey Eades in Game 2.

They filled in for senior Maddie Morgan, who appeared against St. Joseph the previous day.

Eades settled in after the third inning and tossed a complete game with nine hits, five runs and nine strikeouts.

“We knew they would push for time earlier in the year and just little by little, they've earned more time on the mound,” Blakey said of his freshman pitchers.

Spectacular catch

The Braves also came through with solid fielding, committing just two errors the entire day.

It was highlighted by Watts' dazzling play in the outfield.

She stretched her glove over the right field fence and robbed a home run by Effingham's Emma Budde toward the end of Game 2.

“Oh my gosh, what a catch,” Blakey said. “That was a great effort.”

Upcoming tournament

Mount Zion will play a trio of games in the Lady Brave Tournament on Saturday.

It will start off against Dwight at 10 a.m., followed by Illinois Valley Central at 12:30 p.m. and Stanford Olympia at 3 p.m.

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Sports Writer

Sports Writer for the Herald & Review

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