Perfection at the state softball tournament is hard to achieve, but Dallas Center-Grimes junior Paige Lowary came pretty close.
The Missouri recruit pitched the 48th no-hitter in state tournament history and came within just one batter of a perfect game as the Fillies blanked state tourney new-comer Denison-Schleswig, 7-0, on Diamond 1 at Harlan and Hazel Rogers Park Tuesday afternoon.
Lowary, who ran her season record to 25-2 and picked up her 101st career victory, allowed just a two-out walk in the sixth inning as the Fillies (36-2) moved into the 4A semifinals, which will be a rematch of last year's title game with Indianola. The Indians beat Winterset, 4-2, on Diamond 2 to move into Thursday's 5 p.m. semifinal on Diamond 1.
Denison-Schleswig (26-13) plays Winterset in the consolation round today at noon on Diamond 1.
Lowary, an all-stater, struck out 11 and allowed just one ball out of the infield. She struck out the side in third and sixth innings and was backed by eight hits from the Fillies, who took a 5-0 lead in the first inning.
"It is great to get a no-hitter at state, I didn't expect that at all," said Lowary. "My first goal is always a perfect game, but when that didn't happen I wanted to make sure we shut them down and won.
Dallas Center-Grimes 7, Denison-Schleswig 0
Denison-Schleswig 000 000 0 0 0 3
Paige Lansink (L,16-10) and Josie McMinemee. Paige Lowary (W,25-2) and Paige Shanno. WP- Lansink 2. SB- DCG: Brooke Kramer, Rachel Lowaray. LOB- DS 1, DCG 10. T- 1:38.
"Our team is hitting so great and I know the always have my back. When it was 5-0, we decided we wanted to shut them out."
Lowary was backed by a solid defense, including a flawless game from first baseman Dani Heritage, who handled three hot shots down the line for solo putouts during the game.
"Lowary is tough to score on when she's on," said Dallas Center-Grimes coach Steve Schlafke, who posted his 299th career win. "She was very focused. We weren't overlooking this game at all."
The Fillies, who were playing in state for the third straight year, wasted no time jumping on Monarch sophomore Paige Lansink, sending 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the first inning. The first eight batters reached base and the first three scored. Lansink also walked in two runs with the bases loaded.
Dallas Center-Grimes finished the scoring in the second frame, getting RBI singles from Taylor Draisey and Allison O'Brien.
The Fillies actually had a chance to blow the game open and end it early in the next two innings, but they left two runners on base in the third and three runners on in the fourth. They also had a runner thrown out at the plate in each frame.
Whatever they scored, it was more than enough for Lowary. She had at least one strikeout in each inning and only went to a 3-ball count on two batters. Lansink was the only batter to get on base, drawing a walk in the sixth. Lowary proceeded to fan the next batter to end the inning and the Monarchs went 1-2-3 in the seventh.
"We didn't get to where we wanted to last year," said Lowary, who suffered the loss in last year's 1-0 loss to Indianola. "We just want to reach our goal this year."
Lowary's no-hitter is the first at state since 2010, when there were two in the tournament. There have been just 12 perfect games at state, the last a five-inning gem from Wayne's Cassandra Darrah in 2010.