SOLON– The Lady Spartans swept the field as they hosted their own tournament over the weekend.
Solon’s softball team reeled off four more victories, including two close match-ups against formerly ranked teams, and two lopsided wins, leaving the Lady Spartans with a 31-2 record heading into the final games of the season.
The road to the state tournament begins with a first-round bye for the Lady Spartans, who will begin the postseason at home Saturday, July 13. Solon will also host the substate final Tuesday, July 16.
The Lady Spartans opened their two-day softball tournament with wins against Iowa City Regina (7-6) and Keokuk (8-1) Friday, then took a five-inning game from North Polk (11-1) and rallied late to defeat Cedar Rapids Prairie (2-1) Saturday.
Facing the formerly 13th-ranked (2A) Iowa City Regina Regals, Solon pounded out 12 hits, including a double and a home run for Riley Ogden, who collected four RBI in the game.
The Lady Spartans ran out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning and added an insurance run in the third. The Regals responded with two runs in the fourth inning and four runs in the fifth to take a 6-5 lead, but Solon took back the lead for good in the sixth inning. Taylor Nearad, Emily Ira and Kara Misel had doubles.
Holly Hinkel went 4 2/3 innings as the starter, with Ira pitching two innings of relief. Miranda Hochstetler came in for the final out of the game.
Solon built another good lead against Keokuk, and held the Chiefs without a run until the final inning in the 8-1 win.
Ira and Hochstetler divided the pitching duties, scattering two hits each. Ira struck out six.
Solon scored four runs in the third inning and added three more in the fourth, tagging an added score on in the fifth.
Mallory Madsen went 3-3 at the plate, scoring twice and collecting an RBI, while Sydney Lawson was 2-3. Ogden and Ira each had a double, while Alyssa Rickels and Ogden each had two RBI.
On Saturday, the Lady Spartans made fairly short work out of North Polk, putting up at least two runs in each of the first four innings on the way to the five-inning, 11-1 win.
Hochstetler struck out four in four innings on the mound, with Hinkel striking out two in a single inning of work, the fifth.
Emma Rickels was 3-3 with two doubles, scoring once and driving in a run, while Madsen was 3-4 and Ali Herdliska was 2-3. Nearad went 2-2 with a double and two RBI. Solon had 14 total hits and allowed only four.
It was a much closer call against Cedar Rapids Prairie, previously ranked in Class 5A.
The Lady Spartans scored a single run in the fourth inning and Prairie answered in the sixth. Solon scored in the top of the seventh for the win.
Madsen and Ira each had two hits, and Ira went the distance from the hill, limiting Prairie to three hits and striking out 11.
The Lady Spartans were scheduled to host Dyersville Beckman Monday (July 1), and Mid-Prairie Wednesday (July 3) before taking part in a weekend tournament in Ottumwa.