Akron-Westfield will now have a chance to justify its No. 1 ranking.
Behind a complete-game one-hitter from junior ace Kayla Tindall, the Westerners (36-2 overall) narrowly escaped with a 1-0 shutout of fifth-rated Don Bosco in a Class 1A state semifinal Thursday at Rogers Sports Complex.
Tindall (26-2) actually fired a no-hitter for the first 5 1/3 innings until No. 9 batter Baylee Rhoads lined an opposite-field single to right. The only other Don baserunners came on a one-out walk in the first and a two-out fielding error in the sixth. Tindall walked one and fanned five.
"Everything was working (yesterday)," said Tindall, who came in with a 0.23 ERA, seven shutouts and 207 K's in 150 2/3 innings on the season. "I was just trying to hit my spots and not let anyone on base. We were pretty evenly matched, and we knew that coming in. It was good for us that they made a few errors."
No. 10 New London (32-9) now awaits Akron-Westfield in the 1A championship this morning at 10 a.m. on Diamond 1. The Tigers pulled off another upset, edging fourth-ranked Newell-Fonda in eight innings, 1-0.
Aggressive baserunning proved to be the difference in the end for the Westerners, who managed their lone score on a wild sequence in the third. With one out and runners on first and second, Don Bosco's Brittany Hickson fielded a ground ball to second and tagged the runner attempting to advance.
Don Bosco 0
Akron-Westfield 001 000 0-1 5 1
Don Bosco 000 000 0-0 1 2
Kayla Tindall (W, 26-2; 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) and Haley Coyle; Karli Welter (L, 13-6; 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) and Cate Paulsen.
SB-A-W: Katie Johnson, Desi Oltmanns. LOB-A-W 5; DB 3.
The throw back to first for a potential double play was then dropped, allowing Desi Oltmanns to race home with the decisive run. Oltmanns briefly appeared to be out at the plate, however, a head-first slide jarred the ball free.
"I think that was a huge break," A-W head coach Todd Colt said. "But sometimes you have to be lucky to win big games. On that play we had a little bit of luck on our side."
Tindall went 1-for-3 offensively, while Bailey Davis, Dana Hedlund, Katie Johnson and Sarah Schroeder each collected singles. Johnson and Oltmanns both added stolen bases.
With the victory, the Westerners have now prevailed in 15 straight games. Akron-Westfield, which has recorded 23 shutouts on the year, is making its 10th state appearance in the last 11 years.
"I knew (the Dons) were a powerful offense and we've had success in the past putting runs on the board," said Colt, who has guided the Westerners to four previous state titles. "It just goes to show you, when two pitchers pitch well and two teams defend well you can shut down offenses. It was a great defensive battle."
Don Bosco, which saw its 15-game victory streak snapped, will face fourth-ranked Newell-Fonda (36-7) for third place today at 9:30 a.m. on the Dodger Diamond.
The Dons, who have qualified for state eight times in school history, finished third here in 2012.