Coe pitchers Maliah Fligg and Alyssa Olson rebound from offseason surgery

Kohawk duo have already combined for 15 victories this season

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Maliah Fligg and Alyssa Olson were determined to be the top two pitchers for Coe this season.

Instead of offseason training and practice with teammates, both were restricted to rehabilitation from surgery for recurring injuries. They never balked at their shared goal during their limited preseason, combining for 15 of the Kohawks victories already this season.

“We work really hard with our rehab,” Fligg said. “We have great trainers. All of our teammates really support us, which is nice coming back into it.”

The 12th-ranked Kohawks are glad their aces are healthy. Both earned victories in a doubleheader sweep over Augustana (Ill.) in Coe’s home opener Friday at Clark Field. The Kohawks erupted with six home runs, dropping the Vikings, 9-1 and 13-4, and giving them a 17-2 mark as the Iowa Conference slate starts Saturday.

Fligg moved to 8-1 in the opener, undergoing a third knee surgery in Thanksgiving that kept her from throwing until the beginning of February. Olson won the nightcap, improving to 7-1 after an October foot operation sidelined her until a week before the season.

“All winter I sat in a boot. I sat for everything for practice (and) lifting,” Olson said. “It was really frustrating to just sit there. Once I got out of it I was ready to go full-bore. I used it for motivation to make up the time that I lost.”

The time away from the game provided some perspective. The situation was a learning experience. They won’t take anything for granted.

“I would definitely rather be in the cages doing workouts with the girls,” Fligg said. “It really teaches you to enjoy the moment. It’s not all bad.”

For Olson, she suffered an extra bump in the road. She had the boot removed in December. Olson regressed and was forced back in the boot for a couple more months.

“It was one of those things where I got out in December, started working and improving, and got sent back,” Olson said. “As soon as I got out of it, I was ready to go.”

Fligg experienced a torn anterior cruciate ligament her senior season at Clear Creek Amana in the same right knee. She visualized her return. Olson lifted weights, adding much-needed strength to her arms and has been trying to regain her leg strength.

“They worked really hard,” Coe Coach Diane Meyer said. “They have a mission. They had a goal and that was to be our starting pitchers for this year and they’ve done that.”

Both held Augustana (7-11) batters in check. Fligg allowed just one run on six hits, entering the game with a 1.21 earned-run average. Olson gave up three earned runs, but struck out eight, including three straight in the second.

Toughness and hard work have put them in position to be at their best, despite the offseason woes.

“It says a ton about those kids,” Meyer said. “They are both competitors. They both come from very successful high school programs. They know what it means to win. They know what it means to put in the work to get to the point they can win.”

The Kohawks’ power surge provided support. Coe belted six home runs, but had just one in its first 15 games. Fligg had two home runs, including a solo homer in the first game and a two-run blast in the nightcap. She finished with five hits and five RBIs.

“When I first started swinging again, it would bother me but at this point I’m just thinking see ball, hit ball,” Fligg said. “I’m not thinking about my leg or anything like that.”

“When I first started swinging again, it would bother me but at this point I’m just thinking see ball, hit ball,” Fligg said. “I’m not thinking about my leg or anything like that.”

In the first game, Fligg led off the fourth with a homer to right center and sparked a three-run frame that ended with Madi Miller’s two-run shot. The Kohawks scored all nine runs in the final three innings, getting a solo homer from Jess Brooks in the sixth.

In the second game, Haley Jones ripped a solo homer in the second and Mallory McArtor had a two-run shot in the third. Miller added a two-run double for Coe.

“I don’t know where that came from,” Meyer said with a laugh. “It’s just fun to be back at home. We know this field. We’re comfortable here. I think our kids played really relaxed (Friday).”

The Kohawks will head to Indianola for their IIAC opener against Simpson.

“Conference is always tough,” Olson said. “There really isn’t a bad team in the conference and you can’t take anyone lightly.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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