In its first ever appearance at the state tournament, Iowa City West played a nearly flawless game against traditional power Ottumwa to advance to the Class 5A state softball semifinals at Rogers?Park.
Despite being called for a handful of illegal pitches, Iowa City West senior hurler Mackenzie Laux (19-4) seemed unfazed as she pitched a five-hit shut out over the Bulldogs for a 5-0 victory.
The victory sets up a semifinal matchup with top-ranked Ankeny Thursday night on Diamond 1 at 7 p.m.
"We've had to deal with that before," said Iowa City West head coach Jeff Kelly of the illegal pitches called on Laux. "We had to deal with that in our first region game and we've have got to give her all the credit. Lesser pitchers would have folded, would have let it get in their head and they would have folded.
"They went through that and that's what I told them after the first region contest, we had 16 of them called and I said 'you learn from adversity because it makes you nothing but better,' and the reality of it was it made her better. So in this game, she just shrugged it off and went right back to work and that's why we were able to get the job done."
The Women of Troy (37-6) jumped out to an early 2-0 lead against the Bulldogs, and would later add a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of third and an additional run in the bottom of the fourth.
Iowa City West 5, Ottumwa 0
Ottumwa 000 000 0 - 0 5 3
Iowa City West 202 100 x 5 8 0
Mandi Moore and Beth Overturf; Mackenzie Laux and Michaela Recker. SAC-ICW: Tatum Klein, Brianna Sturtz. SB-ICW: Jaylinn Tresslar.
"You never expect shut outs but you take them when you can get them," said Kelly.
In the first inning, Iowa City West's Shelly Stumpff drove in the first run of the contest with and RBI single to plate Tatum Klein. Teammate Lauren Larson followed with an RBI hit to score courtesy runner Erin Kallsen to make it 2-0.
Ottumwa head coach Frank Huston said his squad, who was making its 26th appearance at the state softball tournament, had some chances throughout the contest, but the team just could get that first run pushed across home plate.
The Bulldogs first scoring chance came in the top of the first as Olivia Roark and Paige Schreiner had back-to-back singles with one out, but Laux was able to get out of the inning with a double play recorded by Sturtz on a pop-out by Ottumwa's Katie Sammons at second base.
The Bulldogs (34-9) begin 5A consolation play today against Marshalltown (21-22) on Dodger Diamond at noon.