The usual 30-minute break between games of the MVC softball doubleheader between Western Dubuque and Cedar Rapids Xavier became nearly three days, but that didn’t bother the Bobcats as they returned to Cedar Rapids for a 10 a.m. game two, July 5, after playing the opener July 2.

The Bobcats won the first game, 7-5, over 4A’s 10th-ranked Saints and returned to win an 8-3 decision in the rescheduled second game, improving to 16-15 on the year, while Xavier dropped to 20-13.

“The Bobcats did a nice job of executing all areas of the game against Xavier,” said Western Dubuque coach Rachael Neal. “Xavier is a very good team and we needed strong, consistent play to be successful.”

A four-run first inning in the first game with Xavier started when Sara Horsfield walked and Amy Kane reached by error. An RBI ground ball from Ella Link scored Horsfield before Sydney Kennedy scored Kane on a second Xavier error. Hallie Wilgenbusch then ripped a two-run homer to left to make it 4-0.

Xavier’s Olivia Richards went deep in the bottom of the first to make it 4-1, and the Saints scored two in the fifth and two more in the sixth — leaving the bases loaded in the latter — to take a 5-4 lead.

Link then became the hero, pounding a three-run homer in the seventh after Kaci Wolf was hit by a pitch and Horsfield singled, giving the Bobcats a 7-5 lead that stood up when Meredith Hoerner, who relieved Kennedy in the fifth, struck out Xavier’s Mary Morrow to end the contest.

Kennedy went 5 2/3 innings in the circle, allowing five runs on five hits while striking out seven and walking five. Hoerner got the win in relief, going 1 2/3 allowing no runs on two hits.

Western Dubuque made the most of only three hits. Wilgenbusch was 1-for-1 with a two-run homer and Link 1-for-4 with a three-run home run, while Horsfield’s single was the other hit.

“The girls hit the ball well from the start. Although we didn’t score each inning, we hit some hard balls and had great at bats,” said Neal. “The girls are doing a great job of understanding the process. Sometimes a line drive that is caught is not a hit, but it is a quality at bat. Thanks to that mentality, they did come up with the big hits when we needed it later in the game.”

The Bobcats got off the bus ready to roll in the morning start, July 5, and nobody was more ready than Emma Gile.

The steady junior catcher’s grand slam capped a five-run first inning and teammate Link followed up with a three-run round tripper in the second to stake Western Dubuque to an 8-0 lead as it cruised to a surprisingly easy 8-3 win.

“We had a lot of momentum going into game two — even with having to drive down there again — and the girls did an awesome job of playing good, consistent softball,” said Neal.

Xavier got on the board with a run in the third, and a two-run home run from Briona Charipar in the seventh provided a little excitement, but that was all the Saints managed.

Wilgenbusch had a nice outing in the circle, pitching all seven innings and allowing three runs on four hits. Offensively, Western Dubuque had 12 hits, with Gile 2-for-3 with four RBIs, Horsfield 3-for-4, Kane 2-for-4, Link 1-for-3 with three RBIs, while Kennedy, Jenna Hoefler and Wilgenbusch were 1-for-4.

“Overall in the doubleheader, we played good defense and had strong pitching performances by all three pitchers.” concluded Neal.