MANCHESTER — Macey Kleitsch had been on the wrong side of the first battle.
But the West Delaware junior did everything she could to make sure it was the Central DeWitt softball team that came out on the wrong side of Tuesday’s even bigger rematch.
The Hawks’ pitcher allowed just six Sabers hits and blasted a pair of solo home runs to lead the hosts to a 6-1 victory in the 4A Region 7 final.
Early on, it looked like Tuesday’s meeting between the ninth-ranked Sabers and sixth-ranked Hawks would be the low-scoring sequel to the last time Central faced Kleitsch — a 1-0 Sabers victory on July 3.
Kleitsch retired the first nine Central batters, while her Sabers counterpart, senior Mya Cavanagh, followed a lead-off walk by retiring nine straight Hawks.
Sabers senior Katie Fox finally came up with the game’s first hit with a single up the middle to start the fourth inning.
Morgan Machovec followed with an infield single, and Kenzie Rosenboom moved both players into scoring position with a groundout.
West Delaware, though, got a fly-out that was shallow enough to prevent Fox from tagging up at third, and a diving stop and throw by shortstop Claire Demmer got the Hawks out of the inning unscathed.
Cavanagh retired her 10th straight hitter to open the bottom of the fourth before Kleitsch opened the game’s scoring with her first home run to left.
The next batter added a single and was sacrificed over to second before a double right on the left field line made it 2-0.
The Sabers fought back. Freshman Hannah Palzkill hit a one-out double to the gap in left-center, and then scored from second — beating a tag at the plate — on a two-out hit from senior Payton Preston.
That brought the Sabers within one and that was still the margin when Kleitsch opened the bottom of the sixth inning with her second home run of the game.
The next batter, Heather Heims, also hit a home run and the Hawks collected four of their seven hits in the inning.
The result was a four-run sixth inning that stretched West Delaware’s advantage to 6-1.
The Sabers attempted to rally in the seventh — Emily Swanson and Alyssa Eden both his singles — but Kleitsch got a groundout to short to finish off the victory.
Central’s six hits came from six different players — Fox, Machovec, Swanson, Palzkill and Eden. Palzkill’s hit was a double and the freshman had the Sabers’ run with Preston providing the RBI.
It was the final game for five Central seniors who helped lead the program to their first winning campaign since 2013. The Sabers’ 28 victories (they finished 28-9), meanwhile, are the program’s most since the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union limited softball teams to 40 regular season games in 2008.