MUSCATINE — The Muscatine Community College softball team will have to be ready for what's next.
The Cardinals' head coach, Scott Beatty, felt Indian Hills was the more prepared team on Sunday afternoon as the Warriors swept MCC in the Cardinals' final Iowa Community College Athletic Conference doubleheader at Kent-Stein Park.
The Warriors (36-14, 12-4 ICCAC) won 11-0 in five innings in Game 1 and won 9-3 in Game 2 to capture the regular season ICCAC title. MCC finished its conference schedule at 8-8 and is now 45-12 overall.
"They came prepared and were able to take advantage," Beatty said. "Our pitchers weren't hitting the locations they needed to when we were ahead in the count. ... [Indian Hills] did a great job of being able to cover the plate."
The Warriors scattered 12 hits in each game Sunday, as Kacey Duffield and Shyanne DuBois combined for five runs batted in each across both games.
Muscatine split its last doubleheader with Indian Hills on April 6 in low-scoring affairs, but Indian Hills coach Laura North indicated her team was healthier and had an overall better experience at the plate.
"We're seeing the ball and really hitting it," North said. "That was the biggest difference was that we hit the ball really well today and had struggled with that before."
Indian Hills put up eight runs in the fourth inning of Game 1, sending up 14 batters that collected 7 hits and took advantage of three MCC walks and a Cardinals error.
The Cardinals were held to four hits in Game 1 but left six runners on base and seven more in Game 2. In all, MCC stranded seven runners in scoring position across the two games.
"We have great offensive potential, but we have to relax in scoring situations," Beatty said. "That's something that's been going on all year, we have runners on base, multiple runners on base, and can't push through. We have to focus on calming down and having the right approach that we can do something great."
Muscatine finally broke through with three runs off Marissa Promes in the second inning of Game 2.
A Heather Johnson sacrifice fly and a Peyton Koenig 2-RBI double scored the only runs for Muscatine on Sunday as the Warriors won their 10th game in a row and their sixth consecutive conference game to take the regular season title back to Ottumwa.
The Cardinals will play their final home doubleheader on Monday against Mount Mercy and finish the regular season at St. Ambrose on Tuesday before preparing for the Region XI tournament starting on Friday at Southeastern Community College in West Burlington.
Beatty, having seen ICCAC teams ebb and flow throughout the season, including his own, knows that the momentum can swing back in the Cardinals' direction.
"All we can do is learn from our mistakes and push through to the next game," Beatty said, adding with regard to peaking in time for the tournament: "It'll have a lot to do with energy level and whether the season prepared you for that type of pressure, being able to play loose and not stressing yourself out offensively and defensively."