It wasn't a matter of if, but when Dallas Center-Grimes would officially clinch a third consecutive berth in the state championship game.
The top-ranked Fillies earned the right to defend their title with a 9-0 victory over Norwalk on Thursday at Rogers Park in a conclusion delayed three hours by rain. It was the 40th win of the year for DC-G (40-1), which will meet No. 3 Solon (39-2) for the Class 4A crown at 4:45 p.m. Friday.
Senior all-state pitcher Paige Lowary and her sister, Rachel, combined for a five-hit shutout of the Warriors (28-13), who narrowly avoided losing by the mercy rule right before the storms hit. Shortstop Allison O'Brien went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and three RBI at the plate, while Tabitha Taylor drove in a pair with a double.
The Fillies plated a pair of runs in the first inning, three in the third, two in the fourth and two more in the sixth. Paige Lowary, a University of Missouri recruit, went 3-for-4 from her leadoff spot in the order, with Rachel Lowary - just a freshman - and O'Brien recording multiple hits.
Page improved to 20-1 in the circle. She struck out six and scattered five hits. Rachel relieved her older sister after the lengthy suspension in play and set Norwalk down in order.
Sidney Zepnak finished with two hits for the Warriors. Taylor Goode (17-10) suffered the loss. Norwalk committed three errors that led to three unearned DC-G runs.
DALLAS CENTER-GRIMES 9, NORWALK 0
Norwalk 000 000 0 - 0 5 3
DC-G 203 202 x - 9 10 1
Taylor Goode (L, 17-10; 6 IP, 10 H, 9 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 1 K) and Emily Delker. Paige Lowary (W, 20-1; 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K), Rachel Lowary (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K) and Taylor Draisey, Paige Shanno (7). LOB-Norwalk 8, DC-G 5. 2B-DC-G: Allison O'Brien, Tabitha Taylor, Paige Shanno. SB-DC-G: Rachel Lowary, Jackie Peyton.
The Fillies have now won 22 consecutive contests. They swept the Warriors during the regular season in three meetings as well.
Norwalk meets Carlisle (34-3) for third place in 4A today on INS Field at 3:30 p.m.