FORT DODGE — Despite losing in a state semifinal on Wednesday to two-time defending champion Collins-Maxwell, Lynnville-Sully’s Hawks are still on their historic run at the 2020 Iowa Girls’ High School State Softball Championships.
The Hawks were handcuffed by Class 1A’s top pitcher Mikayla Houge, who had 13 strikeouts, in the Spartans’ 7-0 win over Lynnville-Sully.
It was the first loss to a 1A team this season for the Hawks, who are 19-3 overall with losses to Class 3A Albia and Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont.
“We’ll take tonight to deal with the loss and go home and regroup. We’ll practice on our own field and our kids will get to sleep in their own beds,” Lynnville-Sully head coach Stacey Alberts said. “We’re still doing something historic here and we’ll be ready for Friday.”
Lynnville-Sully embarked on its historic state tournament run with a first-ever first-round victory over Wayne on Tuesday. The Hawks conclude the run with a third-place game against Lisbon.
Lynnville-Sully takes on Lisbon (21-4) at 6 p.m. Friday on the Iowa Central Field at Harlan and Helen Rogers Sports Park. No Lynnville-Sully softball team has finished in the top four at a state softball tournament.
Alberts said Lisbon is a great program and head coach Bob Bunting does a great job with the Lion team. She said the Hawks expect to face strong pitching and the Lions are always fundamentally sound offensively and defensively.
Going into Wednesday’s semifinal game, Lynnville-Sully knew it had to play well from the start against the top-ranked Spartans. The Hawks had a rocky start and the Spartans took advantage quickly by striking for three runs in the first inning.
Alexis Houge singled up the middle then stole second and third base. With one out, Mikayla Houge was intentionally walked with Avery Fricke going in as courtesy runner. After Fricke stole second base, Reagan Franzen drew a walk to load the bases.
The Spartans’ Ella Kahler singled to left field to drive in the first run of the game. Brailyn Tankersley reached on a Lynnville-Sully error allowing another run to cross the plate. On the play, the Hawks were able to record an out at second base.
Olivia Pasquariello drew another walk followed by an RBI base hit by Erica Houge. Hawk junior pitcher Denali Conover held the Spartans to just three runs by striking out Trinity Stover.
“Houge did a great job and when we started to get some sparks we had some umpiring calls that kind of silenced us,” Alberts said. “It was one of those nights. We wished we would have put the ball in play more to give ourselves an opportunity to compete a little bit better.”
One of those damper calls came for the Hawks in the second inning. Senior Mallory Loftus appeared to have beat out a bunt for a single but an umpire said a diving Mikayla Houge tagged Loftus right before she reached base.
With two gone, Conover singled to left field then a groundout ended the second inning. The Hawks still were scoreless.
Lynnville-Sully made several defensive plays to keep the Spartans close. In the bottom of the second inning, sophomore Reagan McFarland made a diving catch in left field.
Also in the second, Collins-Maxwell’s Emma Kahler reached on an error. She ran over junior Caitlin Alberts on a stolen base attempt at second base. Alberts had taken the throw from junior catcher Korinne Jansen who had the ball but Emma Kahler was called safe on the play.
The Hawks worked around it and a walk to retire the Spartans without any damage in the second.
Jansen doubled with two gone in the third but Mikayla Houge notched another strikeout. Coach Alberts said the Hawks just couldn’t string hits together to mount a rally.
“Houge did a great job of keeping us off balance. We had too many strikeouts. You’re not going to win many games with 13 strikeouts,” Alberts said.
Lynnville-Sully turned a double play in the third to retire the Spartans. Both teams went down in order in the fourth.
Still only trailing 3-0, the Hawks got a one-out double by junior Cayler Noun Harder in the fifth. Mikayla Houge fanned the next two Lynnville-Sully batters. The Spartans tacked on a run in the bottom of the fifth, which also featured two more defensive plays by the Hawks to keep the game within reach.
But not for long as Collins-Maxwell put three more runs on the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth to push its lead to 7-0. Conover left the pitching circle with two gone and Caitlin Alberts came on in relief for the Hawks.
Mikayla Houge, who has signed with the University of Virginia, was the winning pitcher after working six innings. She limited the Hawks to three hits. Erika Houge pitched the seventh in relief, allowing one hit and one walk.
Junior Lacy Keen drew a one-out walk and Conover singled to give the Hawks two base runners in the top of the seventh. Two groundouts ended the game.
Conover took the pitching loss after 5 2/3 innings of work. She was charged with seven runs — three earned — on seven hits, eight walks and one hit batter. She had three strikeouts as the Hawks had four errors.
Conover led the Hawk offense with two singles. Jansen and Noun Harder each had a double.
Collins-Maxwell goes to its third straight 1A championship game in a quest of a three-peat. The Spartans (21-1) have a rematch from the 2019 title game with Clarksville (18-1) on Friday night.
Lynnville-Sully 9, Wayne 4
Lynnville-Sully made school history on Tuesday by beating Wayne 9-4 in the 1A quarterfinals. It is the first time in Hawks’ softball history a team has won an opening-round game at state and finish in the top four.
The game was highlighted by a two-run home run by Loftus in the first inning and a grand slam by Jansen in a six-run fifth inning. The teams were tied 3-all after four innings.
Conover improved her pitching record to 18-1. She allowed eight hits, walked one, hit one batter and had one strikeout. Lynnville-Sully had two errors in the game.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at
641-792-3121 ext. 6535