All in all, Monday was a pretty good day for the Lady Dees. The team spent a brutally hot day beating a fading Clarke team 9-0 behind a no-hittter by MacKenna Jones and then drubbing a really good Wayne team 10-0 behind a two-hit shutout by Jena Lawrence.
It was Albia’s 14th and 15th straight wins. The win at Clarke was a bit anti-climactic since the Dees had already clinched the South Central Conference title, but it did give them an 11-1 record for their third straight title.
It was the first conference championship for co-coaches Darren Hill and Jani Dorpinghaus, who have fist fulls of titles as assistant coaches. They are the fourth and fifth coaches to lead the Dees to conference titles (Linda Hoskins, Larry Achenbach, Mitch Chance the other three).
Their record at the end of the evening was 21-3 as they move into their final three games of the regular season, at Fairfield on Tuesday and at the Ottumwa Tournament on Friday where they meet Southeast Polk and Solon.
Traveling to Clarke for a 1:30 conference make-up game, the game was pretty much over in the second inning when the Dees exploded for eight runs. Ironically, the team didn’t hit all that well, collecting only five hits, including a two-run double by Makenna Ross. Jena Lawrence had two hits and two RBI, Alex Beard had a hit and Ellie Spurgin had a two-run single.
Clarke had seven base runners in the game, all on walks by Jones. But even with an above average number of walks, Jones was in total control on the mound, tossing a no-hitter with nine strikeouts.
“It’s a little different throwing JV and then moving up to varsity to pitch to a really good team,” said Coach Jani Dorpinghaus. “MacKenna was trying to keep the ball away from their hitters and gave up a few more walks than she is used to, but there was never any doubt who was in control of the game.”
The Dees returned home for a nightcap against Wayne and fans got to view another solid pitching and defensive performance. Lawrence was spot on from the jump, finishing with a two-hitter, with a single walk and four strikeouts. The Lady Dee junior pitched ahead in the count all night and only had a couple of rough patches, giving up a double and a walk in the second to put runners at second and third and then giving up a two-out triple in the third before ending the inning with a strikeout.
Getting out of the second brought Albia fans to their feet as the Dees faced runners at second and third with no outs, leading 1-0.
Wayne did what great softball teams do with runners at second and third and no outs. They laid down a perfect bunt. Rylee Leshen fielded the ball without hesitation and fired a throw to Abbey Griffin waiting at first, who made a perfect throw home to get the runner attempting to score. Five to four to two double play. Lawrence struck out the third out.
The Dees were efficient offensively, scoring one in the first, two in the third, one in the fourth and three in the fifth when Jones hit a two-run bases loaded single to end the game at the 10-run rule.
Beard was white hot at the plate, going 4-4, including two doubles, with two RBI. Abbie Martin had two hits including a double and an RBI, Lawrence had two hits and an RBI, Jones had a two-run single, Griffin had an RBI on a sacrifice bunt and Kennedy Schroeder had a single and scored three times.
Dees claim third straight SCC title
The run production was a bit off from the last few games, but the hitting was still good and the pitching was much improved over the past few outings as the Lady Dees clinched their third straight South Central Conference championship with a 5-1 win over Centerville on Thursday.
Jena Lawrence threw one of her best games of the season, scattering two hits and a walk with 11 strikeouts. Centerville’s only run came in the sixth when number three hitter Claire Mathews tripled and scored on a single by Taylor Shinn. Otherwise, the Redettes were kept off the bases by timely strikeouts and good defense.
Albia scored a run in the first, then added single runs in the fourth and fifth before adding two in the sixth to salt the game away.
Lawrence was red hot at the plate, with three hits, including a double and two RBI. Makenna Ross had an RBI single, Abbie Martin had an RBI single, Ellie Spurgin had an RBI single, Kennedy Schroeder doubled and scored, Alex Beard doubled and Rylee Leshen singled. Danica Workman, Taylor Colwell and Taylee Wolfer all had runs.
Alyssa McElvain, who returned to the mound for Centerville after an absence, gave up 10 hits but struck out six and didn’t walk a batter.