One year removed from a frustrating loss in the Class 4A state title game, Dallas Center-Grimes put together all the pieces and claimed a 5-2 victory over Carlisle in the 4A final last night at Rogers Park.
The Fillies, 1-0 losers to Indianola last year, rode the same formula last night that they had in two previous tournament games - score early, then ride the pitching of junior Paige Lowary.
This time, they banged out eight hits and got a four-hitter from Lowary for the first state softball title in school history and the first for head coach Steve Schlafke.
"It feels amazing," Schlafke said. "We've got such a good group of kids and they have worked so hard. It all started the first day after the loss last year.
"Paige has been pretty dominant for quite a while now. (Friday) she had to make an adjustment with the strike zone, but she battled in there.
"We were third two years ago and second last year. Our goal from day one was to get back here and get No. 1. Last year was a big motivator for us."
Dallas Center-Grimes 5, Carlisle 2
Carlisle 020 000 0 2 4 3
Dallas Center-Grimes 210 110 x 5 8 0
Gabby Schnathorst (L,15-4), Shaynne Dubois (5) and Elin Landgren. Paige Lowary (W,27-2) and Paige Shanno. WP- Schnathorst 3. PB- Shanno. 2B- Carlisle: Abby Davis; DCG: Paige Lowary, Macey Wolfe, Allison O'Brien. 3B- Carlisle: Shyanne Dubous. Sac- Carlisle: Elin Landgren, Katie Berg. SacF: Rachel Lowary. LOB- Carlisle 6, Dallas Center-Grimes 7. T- 1:49.
Schlafke picked up career win No. 301 at Dallas Center-Grimes and the 1,085th of his 38-year career.
"Every coach has the goal of winning a state title. This has been a long time coming," the coach added.
"We had such a bad feeling last year and we said that we never wanted to feel that way again," said Lowary, who has already committed to play for the Missouri Tigers. "Carlisle is always our most intense game we play all year. Their fans are so loud. Meeting them in this game was over the top."
It was the third meeting of the year between the Raccoon River Conference foes, who split two regular-season games. The Fillies (38-5) joined conference counterpart Bondurant-Farrar as state champions. The Lady Jays won the 3A title just before this game started.
In fact, the Raccoon River Conference had two state champs, a state runner-up and a fifth-place team in Winterset. That type of competition helped the Fillies this summer, according to Schlafke.
"Our conference is just so strong," Schlafke said. "You have to be ready to play ball every night. Winning (the league)?is such an accomplishment. Our schedule prepared us for everything we've seen (at state)."
The Fillies were league champs at 14-2, while Carlisle was second with a 13-3 record.
"I give our kids credit - we didn't back down," said Carlisle coach Jim Flaws, whose team was bidding for its fifth state crown. "We just gave them too many opportunities. They are a very good team. They earned it."
Dallas Center-Grimes jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first getting an RBI single from Taylor Draisey and a sacrifice fly from Rachel Lowary.
Carlisle tied it with two in the top of the second as Shayanne Dubois ripped a two-run triple. The Wildcats (34-8) could have done more damage early, but they left two runners in scoring position in the first and left runners at third base in the second and third.
DC-G?went ahead for good in the the bottom of the second. Jackie Peyton reached on an error and scored on an RBI double from Paige Lowary.
The Fillies made it 4-2 in the fourth as Lowery singled, and then courtesy runner Selena Nolte went all the way to third on a wild pitch. Brooke Kramer then singled to right.
Their final run came across in the fifth as Draisey scored on a double by Allison O'Brien.
Carlisle threatened again in the sixth, putting the first two runners on base, but Lowary worked out of that jam and then retired the Wildcats in order in the seventh.
Lowary now has 103 career wins and finishes with a 27-2 mark this year. She was also thinking about 2014 immediately after this win.
"I think we can work hard and get better. We definitely lose some good players (to graduation), but we will definitely work hard to make next season better than this one."