Indianola became the latest in a long line of CIML softball champions here Friday, as the Indians earned the first title in program history with a tense 1-0 victory over Dallas Center-Grimes on Diamond 1 at Rogers Park.
Senior pitcher Abbie Van Vleet completed her all-tournament week by out-dueling Fillie star Paige Lowary, as Indianola (31-11 overall) completed its three-game run through 2011 qualifiers to capture the CIML's 11th state crown since 2003.
''This is something these kids will remember for the rest of their lives,'' Indian head coach Stacy Evans said. ''They'll be able to tell their grandchildren about this very moment. To be able to do it in front of our fans and families - we want to thank them, as a team, for their support through it all. A truly special day for Indianola High School and our entire community.''
Van Vleet, a University of Northern Iowa recruit, fired a two-hit shutout the day after blanking defending champion Clear Creek-Amana. The 4A all-tourney captain received her lone run of support in the bottom of the sixth, when an error on a sacrifice fly throwing attempt allowed freshman pinch runner Kristina Quijano to scamper home.
Quijano was running for fellow ninth-grader Cassie Burris, who had doubled to lead off the frame.
''This is just an incredible feeling,'' said fellow all-tournament honoree Brianna Chaplin. ''It was amazing to see so much support in the stands, and our student section was just huge.
Indianola 1, Dallas Center-Grimes 0
DC-Grimes 000 000 0 - 0 2 1
Indianola 000 001 x - 1 2 0
Paige Lowary (L, 31-4; 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) and Paige Shanno; Abbie Van Vleet (W, 22-2; 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) and Kirsten Burris. 2B-I: Cassie Burris.
''This is a dream come true.''
Indianola's crown is the 11th for the CIML since 2003. The league, which has taken nine consecutive large-class title trophies home from Fort Dodge, claimed both the 4A and the 5A championships when Ankeny defeated Des Moines East later Friday.
The Hawkettes, Scarlets, West Des Moines Valley, West Des Moines Dowling and Johnston all join IHS in the winner's circle over the course of the last decade alone.
Ankeny players high-fived the Indians as they left the field between their respective games, congratulating them as a fellow CIML Central Division representative. Evans then received an impromptu water shower when a few players doused her with small bottles in celebration of their victory.
''I really think staying at Iowa Central (for three nights) helped us this week,'' Evans said. ''We were able to do a lot of team activities and we spent time with Ankeny, Earlham and a few other (programs) when we were out there, just relaxing and enjoying the overall experience.
''It kept them loose and away from some of the distractions that tend to arise during a state tournament. It brought an already-close group even closer together. I feel like we were all on the same page.''
Van Vleet (22-2), Indianola's lone senior, retired Taylor Draisey on a deep flyout with a runner on base to end it. DC-G (32-7) never seriously challenged Van Vleet, who worked all 21 innings at state - including the last 18 without surrendering a single run.
Lowary finished 31-4 from the pitcher's circle, allowing only the single unearned run. The left-hander had blanked both Sioux City Heelan and Washington to reach the finals before the Indians ended her goose egg streak late yesterday when it mattered most.
''This is so exciting. Words can't describe it,'' said Indian sophomore third baseman Madi Parrott, who also landed on the all-tournament squad. ''A lot of us have been playing together since we were eight or nine years old. We put in the hard work and played a tough schedule (as the lone 4A program in the CIML), but it was all worth it just to share something like this with each other.''