Spartans return to title round

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla

Carli Spelhaug of Pleasant Valley catches a line drive against Urbandale during a Class 5A semifinal on Thursday at Rogers Park. For more photos, please visit CU.messengernews.net

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Carli Spelhaug of Pleasant Valley catches a line drive against Urbandale during a Class 5A semifinal on Thursday at Rogers Park. For more photos, please visit CU.messengernews.net

Carli Spelhaug’s fifth-inning solo home run on Thursday lifted Pleasant Valley to it second consecutive Class 5A state championship game here at Rogers Park.

The seventh-ranked Spartans (34-8 overall) earned a 2-1 victory over No. 6 Urbandale in the semifinals. They meet No. 1 Waukee on Friday at 12:27 p.m. on Diamond 1.

Spelhaug broke a 1-1 tie with her fifth home run of the season off J-Hawk (32-9) pitcher Bella Crow with two outs.

“It’s just an amazing feeling,” said Emily Wood, an eighth-grade starting centerfielder. “It’s unbelievable actually. I knew through the whole game we could do it.

“At state tournaments, every team is good and every pitch counts. Our coach (Jose Lara) tells us that all the time. One pitch can change a game and we did that (in Spelhaug’s homer).”

Last summer, Pleasant Valley suffered a heart-breaking 3-2 defeat to Johnston in the finals. Eight starters are back from that team, including Alexia Lara, who entered in the sixth and earned the save in relief of Ellie Spelhaug, a Bradley University basketball commit.

Spelhaug earned her 21st victory of the season, allowing six hits and one earned run. Lara had three strikeouts over the final two innings.

No. 9 hitter Rachel Tebbe drove in the first run for the Spartans in the second, plating Wood.

“We just keep fighting,” Lara said. “The girls have overcome every test and the expectations are high now. (On Friday) we just have to work twice as hard to persevere again.”

Urbandale, making its third consecutive state appearance, will face Cedar Rapids Kennedy in the third place game at 11:30 a.m. on Diamond 2. The J-Hawks made the semis last year before settling for fourth.

Skyler Shellmyer was 3-for-3 with a sacrifice fly for an RBI out of her leadoff spot. Urbandale stranded 10 runners on base, including six in scoring position. Devan Fisher reached twice in the game.

PLEASANT VALLEY 2,

URBANDALE 1

Urbandale 010 000 0 — 1 7 1

Pleasant Valley 010 010 x — 2 4 0

  Bella Crow (L, 17-6, 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 K, 0 BB) and Allison Yoder; Ellie Spelhaug (W, 21-5, 5 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 K, 0 BB), Alexia Lara (S, 2 IP, 1 H, 3 K, 0 BB) and Hannah Mausser. HR–PV: Carli Spelhaug. RBI–U: Skyler Shellmyer; PV: Rachel Tebbe. SB–U: Cassidy Henderson.