Runs were at a premium in Tuesday's Class 5A state quarterfinal between No. 3 Southeast Polk and sixth-ranked Cedar Rapids Jefferson.
In the end, the Rams (29-9 overall) escaped with a 2-0 victory over the J-Hawks at Rogers Sports Complex.
Making their eighth state trip in school history, Southeast Polk will now face No. 2 West Des Moines Dowling (29-8) in a 5A semifinal Thursday at 5:30 p.m. on INS Field. The defending state champion Maroons topped seventh-ranked Pleasant Valley by a 4-1 count yesterday. During the regular season, the Rams and Dowling split their two meetings.
—Messenger photo by Britt Kudla
Kalie Lange of Southeast Polk slides into home against CR?Jefferson For more photos, please visit CU at messengernews.net
"We're really excited, because sometimes just getting through that first game is difficult," said SEP head coach Tia Stiles. "I'm pretty confident in our girls. We know that we're going to take our bumps during the year, but we know that it's really helped us become the best team that we can be right now so we love our schedule."
Sophomore Markee Brown's clutch two-out single up the middle in the sixth inning plated Kali Lange with what proved to be the decisive score for the Rams, who extended their winning streak to nine straight games. Western Kentucky signee Hannah Parker later added a RBI single of her own, bringing home Shelby Uhl.
Parker (18-3) also went the distance in her 10th shutout of the season, scattering seven hits with one walk and 10 strikeouts. Parker, who came in with a 1.21 ERA, ended the first six innings with a K.
SOUTHEAST POLK 2,
CEDAR RAPIDS JEFFERSON 0
SE Polk 000 001 1-2 11 1
CR Jefferson 000 000 0-0 7 2
Hannah Parker (W, 18-3; 7 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 K) and Brooke French; Alyssa Olson (L, 17-6; 7 IP, 11 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K) and Maddie Hansen.
2B-SEP: Shelby Uhl, Cassady Knudsen. SH-SEP: French, CRJ: Katelyn Holub. MH-SEP: Kenzie Hilzer (2), Uhl (2), Kali Lange (2); CRJ: Maddie Hansen (2), Emily Walton (2). SB-CRJ: Kristen Naber. LOB-SEP 11, CRJ 11.
"I actually really like the pressure, and I feel I can deal with it pretty well," Parker said. "I rely on my junk and my catcher to get out of those tough situations. I think we were just nervous a little bit at the beginning. We knew we could get the job done."
Kenzie Hilzer, Uhl and Lange each finished 2-for-4 offensively for Southeast Polk.
For the perennial power J-Hawks (34-7), Maddie Hansen and Emily Walton collected two hits apiece.
Both teams stranded 11 baserunners. Jefferson, which is making its 21st state appearance, left the bags full in the first and third frames.
"There were times when the momentum very easily could've went their way," said Stiles of the J-Hawks. "I thought they played excellent."
Alyssa Olson (17-6) was the tough-luck losing pitcher, allowing 11 hits and two earned runs. She walked two and fanned seven.
Next up for the J-Hawks is Pleasant Valley (30-9) in the 5A consolation bracket this morning at 10 a.m. on INS Field.