FORT DODGE — The divorce between Collins-Maxwell and Baxter was an unpopular one with the student body.
“I didn’t like it at all,” Collins-Maxwell pitcher Mikayla Houge said. “The students and athletes were very upset. We had such a great bond.”
That bond ended after 29 years of whole-grade sharing for athletics. It split a softball program that had been successful in recent years.
It also created an opportunity.
“Some of us came up here last year and watched the (Class) 1A teams play, and we knew we could play with those teams,” Houge said.
They sure have.
Houge struck out 10 in a one-hitter, and the second-ranked Spartans silenced No. 9 Lisbon, 1-0, in a 1A semifinal Wednesday afternoon at the Rogers Sports Complex.
“We’ve seen some good pitchers ... (Kendra) Cooper (of Lansing Kee), (Abby) Flanagan (of North Linn), and she’s better than both of them,” Lisbon Coach Bob Bunting said. “She does such a good job of recognizing a batter’s weakness and attacking it.”
Collins-Maxwell (29-1) advances to the championship game in its first year back on its own. The Spartans will face No. 4 Ackley AGWSR (28-7) at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Lisbon (34-9) will face Akron-Westfield (27-5) in the third-place game at 5 p.m. Thursday.
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Houge (27-1), a sophomore, retired the first 13 Lions she faced, then surrendered a one-hit single to Stacia Hall in the fifth. That was Lisbon’s lone baserunner as Houge lowered her ERA to 0.43 and upped her season strikeout total to 303.
“(Bunting) told us before the game we had to stay off everything above our waist, and we struggled with that,” Hall said.
Lisbon’s Skylar Sadler (25-6) was plenty good herself, yielding four hits.
“Our defense was definitely good today,” Sadler said. “We just didn’t get the hits. We chased the riseball too much. We didn’t do anything wrong; we just struggled with the bats.”
Eighth-grader Alexis Houge had three of the Spartans’ hits, including a comebacker off Sadler’s shin in the first inning that started the game’s lone scoring rally.
After Katie Camp’s sacrifice bunt, Mikayla Houge’s ground ball was misplayed, allowing Alexis Houge to score.
Lisbon’s defense was air-tight the rest of the way, including some not-so-routine plays, and the Spartans didn’t advance a baserunner past second base after the first inning.
"Defense, that’s been our strength all year,” Bunting said.
COLLINS-MAXWELL 1, LISBON 0
Class 1A State Semifinal, at Fort Dodge
Lisbon 000 000 x — 0 1 1
Collins-Maxwell 100 000 x — 1 4 0
Skylar Sadler and Reegan Happel. Mikayla Houge and Hannah Caple. W — Houge (27-1). L — Sadler (25-6).
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