SIOUX CITY — Chasity Johnson knew her last game against the Bishop Heelan High School girls softball team was going to be a big one.
Her East teammates came through to prove her right.
The Black Raiders (10-7) earned a regular-season sweep of the Crusaders (9-5) on Monday in an 11-7 contest, marking it the first time East had done so since 2011.
“We knew we had beaten them once, and we wanted to come back and do that again,” Johnson, a senior, said. “It’s been a long time since we beat Heelan (at Bishop Mueller Field). It was a big win, and they’ve always been our No. 1 rival.”
East scored twice in the first two innings each, then scored four more-than-needed runs in the seventh inning.
Black Raiders junior first baseman Abby Alter led off the seventh-inning rally with a one-out double.
After Josie Blake reached with a single, junior Katlynn Tucker drove in two runs on a double that split the left-centerfield gap.
“I saw Josie got up to bat, I saw that she got a key hit, so I was up there and I had two strikes on me, so I was like, ‘You know what? I’m going to make something happen for my team,’” Tucker said. “I saw a nice pitch. I saw the ball well, and I took a crack at it. It ended up being a good on.”
Brylee Hempey and Kiahna Jenkins drove in back-to-back RBI singles to close out East’s four-run seventh.
Tucker was 4-for-4 with a walk, a double and five RBI. She entered Monday with a 7-for-25 season with just three RBI.
Tucker couldn’t even explain her big night.
“I was just feeling it, I guess,” Tucker said.
She started off the game with an infield single, and Madi Van Dyke drove her on an RBI single. Tucker also knocked a two-run double to left field in the second inning.
She said she felt like her teammates were with her in the batter’s box in all five at-bats.
“It all falls back on my teammates,” Tucker said. “I hear them in the dugout. They’re all cheering for me loud, and I just want to do all of this for them.”
Johnson felt good after having early run support.
Through the first two innings, the Black Raiders senior pitcher held Heelan to one hit (a lead-off single by Kyla Michalak) and stuck out five straight batters in a row. It seemed Johnson was well on her way to an undemanding night.
“I knew I wanted to come out and get this win, and I knew this was going to be a mental game,” Johnson said.
But Heelan junior second baseman Liz Meyer had different ideas.
Meyer led off the third inning with a double, and it was a big spark.
The Crusaders scored three runs in the third. Maddie Hase immediately drove in Meyer, then Kenley Meis drove in an RBI single. Hase scored on a fielder’s choice on a close play at the plate, as she beat Tucker’s throw.
“They really came out and battled,” Crusaders coach Stacia Barker said. “Once we get through the lineup once or twice, I think our girls get a lot more comfortable. We really do a good job of coming back in the dugout and letting everyone else what we’re seeing, what the umpires are calling.
“We get rallies going, and our girls respond very well to that,” Barker said.
That didn’t deter Johnson, however. She knew there was plenty of game left, and she knew she couldn’t quiet the Crusaders’ lineup for a full seven innings.
“That’s when your defense has to come back and your offense has to be there for you, and they were there the whole time,” Johnson said. “I know my girls always have my back. This game mentally, I wanted it so bad. It wasn’t hard to stay strong.”
The Black Raiders came back with three more runs in the fifth inning. Evie Larson, Van Dyke and Alter scored a run in that frame.
Heelan scored two runs in the seventh inning and it started with Meis driving in freshman Mariah Augustine on an RBI double with two outs.
“They play until the last out,” Barker said. “What I saw that young girls are not willing to quit. That’s what we preach. They bought into that. It was fun. We know we can do damage with two outs.”
Michalak, Heelan’s lead-off hitter, was 3-for-4. She and Meis were the only two Crusaders with multi-hit games.
“She’s a gamer, and she’ll hit the ball where it’s pitched,” Barker said. “We have talked about different things with her, but what she’s doing is working. She puts the ball in play.”