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No. 2 Solon picks up first loss

Lady Spartans run gauntlet of ranked foes
Jess Heick makes contact for the Lady Spartans against Central DeWitt Monday. Heick doubled, scored a run and knocked in two in the first game of a doubleheader, which Solon won, 10-0. (photos by Doug Lindner)

SOLON– In the span of a single week, Solon’s varsity softball team took on five separate ranked opponents.
And out of the eight games the Lady Spartans played, only one team was able to put a blemish on Solon’s perfect record.
Fort Dodge (ranked No. 4 in 4A) defeated Solon 6-5 in a five-inning game Saturday, June 21, in Fort Dodge to provide the first loss of the season for the Lady Spartans.
But by then, Solon had already taken down the second- and seventh-ranked teams in Class 5A– West Des Moines Dowling and Ankeny– as well as unranked Emmetsburg.
The Lady Spartans remained second to Dallas Center-Grimes in the Class 4A rankings issued June 20 by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union.
The team put that ranking to the test, taking on No. 11 (4A) West Delaware in a rescheduled game June 17, No. 6 (4A) Davenport Assumption June 18, and four teams at the Fort Dodge tournament before returning home for a doubleheader sweep of Central DeWitt Monday.
Solon scored a total of 58 runs over the eight-game span while allowing only 10; four to West Delaware in a 7-4 win, and six to Fort Dodge.
The Lady Spartans’ two starting pitchers, Emily Ira and Holy Hinkel, had to double-team West Delaware in the June 17 rematch. Hinkel started, but allowed seven hits and four earned runs in just over four innings.
Solon held a 5-0 lead going into the bottom of the fourth inning, when West Delaware scored three times and the Hawks tacked on another run in the fifth to trim Solon’s lead to 5-4.
The Lady Spartans tacked on two insurance runs in the sixth, and that’s all Ira needed as she struck out five and scattered three hits in relief.
Ira took the mound again the next evening at home against Assumption, allowing only two hits while striking out six. She also went 3-3 at the plate with an RBI to help her own cause in a 5-0 win.
At the Fort Dodge tournament Friday, Hinkel pitched three hitless innings while Solon’s bats rapped out 18 hits for a 15-0 win over Emmetsburg. Ali Herdliska, Monika Bevans, Riley Ogden and Jess Heick were all a perfect 3-3 and combined for eight RBI.
The top of the Solon lineup got on base for a 3-0 win over Ankeny. Mallory Madsen, Sydney Lawson and Taylor Nearad all scored for the Lady Spartans, with two RBI for Herdliska and one for Nearad. Solon scored once in the first and twice in the third inning, and that was all Ira needed on the mound. She struck out nine batters and gave up only one hit in seven innings for the win.
Ira was on the mound again against Dowling, chalking up another 10 strikeouts and scattering two hits in a 4-0 win. Bevans socked two doubles and the Lady Spartans racked up 11 walks against the No. 2 team in Class 5A.
The Fort Dodge game was a thriller, with home runs by Herdliska and Ira. Solon led 5-2 going into the bottom of the fifth inning, when Fort Dodge put across four runs for the 6-5 win. Hinkel took the loss, allowing seven hits, but only three earned runs.
Back home Monday (June 23) against Central DeWitt, Nearad exploded for a home run and two doubles (one of which missed going yard by about four inches), going 4-4 with five RBI in a 10-0 win.
The Lady Spartans broke open a 1-0 game with six runs in the fourth inning. Madsen and Heick each had two RBI and scored twice, as did Nearad.
Ira pitched five one-hit innings for the win, her 15th of the season. Her six strike-outs brought her total to 150 so far for the season.
In the second game of the doubleheader, Hinkel went seven innings for the win, allowing three hits in a 9-0 victory.
This time it was Herdliska who went crazy with the bat, going 3-4 at the plate with a double, a home run and five RBI. Lawson was 3-4 and scored three times while Heick was 2-2 with two RBI.
The wins moved Solon to 24-1.
The Lady Spartans host Independence Thursday, June 26, for a doubleheader before the weekend Solon Varsity Classic. Anamosa visits for a doubleheader June 30, then Solon hits the road for a single game at Mid-Prairie July 2 and a double-dip at Dyersville Beckman July 3.