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Offense + defense equals 11-0 start

Emily Ira strikes out 29 in two games as Lady Spartans roll

SOLON– When the offense is sputtering, put Emily Ira on the mound.
Twice in the last week, Coach Jim White’s Lady Spartan softball team was able to preserve an undefeated season by riding strike-out happy Ira’s pitching arm.
Ira struck out 16 batters in a 1-0 victory over Benton Community (No. 4 in Class 3A), and 13 against Highland in a 4-0 win over the weekend.
But in fairness to the rest of the Solon pitching staff and the team’s defense, no one scored an earned run against the Lady Spartans last week.
Solon moved to 11-0 on the season and moved up a spot on the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) Class 4A rankings (from fourth to third) after sweeping doubleheaders from Benton Community and Williamsburg, and a single game from Highland in the rain-shortened Solon Classic Saturday.
Against Benton Community’s Bobcats Wednesday, June 4, Solon used a six-run fourth inning to blow open a 2-0 lead, adding three more insurance runs in an 11-1 win. Pitcher Holly Hinkel struck out four and allowed four hits.
Mallory Madsen and Sydney Lawson had six hits between them for the Lady Spartans, and accounted for five of Solon’s runs. Each had an RBI, and Madsen had two stolen bases to Lawson’s one.
It took a double by Taylor Nearad and an RBI from Riley Ogden to avoid extra innings against the Bobcats in the other half of the twin bill.
Nearad scored in the bottom of the seventh inning to give Solon a 1-0 win, to go along with pitcher Ira’s 16 strikeouts.
The next day, the Lady Spartans hit the road for a double-dip with Williamsburg, taking both games, 8-0 and 11-0.
Hinkel and McKenna Miller combined to allow four hits and strikeout four.
Jess Heick hit a home run (her third) and knocked in three runs, while Madsen was 3-4 at the plate with a double and scored twice.
The Lady Spartans scored seven times in the first four innings.
Solon cranked out 11 runs on 17 hits with three home runs in the other game at Williamsburg. Lawson was 3-3 and scored twice, with home runs from Nearad, Ali Herdliska and Monika Bevans. Nearad was 3-4 with a double, triple and home run, Herdliska was 2-3 with a double and a home run, and Bevans had two doubles and a home run. The three accounted for 10 RBI.
Solon wrapped up the week taking on Highland at home.
Ira’s 13 strikeouts and four runs in the middle of the game were all the Lady Spartans needed to get past the No. 1 team in Class 2A.
Madsen, Lawson, Nearad and Bevans each hit home a run for Solon.