FORT DODGE — Iowa City High struggled against one of the state’s best pitchers — Ellie Spelhaug and her 0.70 season ERA — as top-ranked and defending 5A state softball champion Pleasant Valley beat the Little Hawks, 4-0, on Tuesday at the Rogers Sports Complex.
“We saw the drop ball a little more than we’ve seen this year and we got on top of it a little bit,” City High Coach Jeff Koenig said. “We just didn’t square up balls like we have been, and we came into this tournament squaring up as many balls as we have all season. We did square up three or four of them — we hit a few of them hard, but we needed seven, eight or nine in a game like this against the No. 1 team in the state.
“They’re the No. 1 team in the state for a reason — that’s probably one of the best pitchers in the state, and we just couldn’t figure her out.”
Little Hawks pitcher Ayana Lindsey did her best to keep her team in it, but a few big hits were the difference.
Koenig said the Spartans really only squared up two balls — a triple by Emily Wood that scored a run in the third inning and a home run by Alexia Lara in the fourth inning.
Pleasant Valley also took advantage of an intentional walk of Lara in the fifth inning to fill the bases. Bell Luebken came through for the Spartans and got a two-run single.
“I was just taking it pitch by pitch and letting my defense work no matter what happens. I know I have to let it brush off my shoulders if something goes wrong for me,” Lindsey said.
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Added Koenig: “It wasn’t like they were hitting BB’s at us all day long — (Lindsey) did a nice job of keeping them off balance. That team was a runner-up two years ago, state champion last year and more than likely will be playing on Friday night. We’ll be alright.”
City High, an incredibly young team, started an eighth-grader, three freshmen, three sophomores and two juniors. The Little Hawks don’t have a senior on the team.
“We came far this year, and I think we can build on it next year,” Lindsey said. “That’s great and I’m so happy to be here and a I can’t wait to build more next year.”
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