SOLON– After what seems like a month on the road, the Solon varsity softball team returns home this week.
The last home game for the Lady Spartans was June 4.
Since then, the squad has been taking on the best teams in the state with mostly successful results. In the last week alone, Solon played the No. 6 team in Class 5A (Ottumwa), the No. 1 team in 4A (Clear Creek Amana) and the No. 4 team in Class 3A (Mid-Prairie), losing only to CCA as part of a four-game weekend at the CCA’s tournament in Tiffin.
Solon’s home stand begins this week hosting Central DeWitt Monday evening (June 25), followed by a rematch with CCA Wednesday, June 27, and ending with a doubleheader against Anamosa Thursday, June 28.
The Lady Spartans finish off the season in Ottumwa Friday.
The postseason starts Tuesday, July 3, at home against Mount Vernon in the first round of Class 3A regional play. Solon will host games through the regional championship scheduled for Monday, July 9.
The battle-tested Lady Spartans should be ready.
Solon notched six wins in seven games last week, beginning with a hard-fought doubleheader sweep of West Delaware June 18.
West Delaware, unranked but second in the WaMaC East, held a 3-2 lead going into the sixth inning, but three runs by Solon in the top of the seventh gave the Lady Spartans the edge in a 5-3 win. Arran Weeces and Emily Ira combined for the victory on the mound, while Emily Bransky’s two doubles accounted for a third of Solon’s six hits.
In the second game, Solon jumped ahead with three runs in the first, two in the second and an insurance run in the third to take a 6-0 lead. West Delaware cut the lead in half with three runs in the fourth, but the Lady Spartans tacked on two more in the seventh to take command, winning 8-4.
Holly Hinkel, Ira and Weeces shared pitching duties, with Weeces striking out three in 1-1/3 innings of work. Taylor Nearad was 2-3, including a home run and two RBI. Casey Musgrave had a double and two RBI as well.
Two days later, the Lady Spartans spent only three innings playing at Vinton-Shellsburg, plating 19 runs in two innings. Mel Breza, Ali Herdliska and Emma Rickels each had four RBI; four players were perfect at the plate; 10 different Solon players scored, nine of them twice.
Weeces struck out seven batters in three innings.
Then came four games at the CCA tournament June 22-23, highlighted by a taut, 6-5 win over Mid-Prairie. After falling behind in the first inning, the Lady Spartans took a 3-1 lead in the third, but the Golden Hawks came back with two runs in the fourth to tie the game. The two teams traded runs in the fifth, but Mid-Prairie took the lead in the top of the sixth, and Alyssa Rickels’ two-out single in the bottom of the inning gave Solon the 6-5 win.
Solon went on to defeat Des Moines Lincoln, 7-1, before falling to CCA in the semifinal, 9-3.
Hinkel took the loss for Solon, allowing five earned runs over five innings of work. Ira pitched two scoreless innings in relief. The Lady Spartans were limited to only six singles, and didn’t score until the sixth inning.
The girls came back to beat Ottumwa in the consolation game, 9-7.
Musgrave had a triple and three RBI, Alyssa Rickels was 3-3 and scored twice. Bransky had two stolen bases and scored twice.
Solon was able to take the lead in the third inning and held on, adding three runs in the sixth to hold off an Ottumwa rally.