Champs pitch shutout

When you have two of the top pitchers in the state at your disposal, the need to light up the scoreboard isn’t there.

For top-ranked Pleasant Valley, that’s exactly what they bring to the state tournament in seniors Ellie Spelhaug and Alexia Lara.

The Spartans took care of Iowa City High here on Tuesday at Rogers Park, 4-0, advancing one step closer to repeating as Class 5A champions. Pleasant Valley (34-7 overall) will face No. 5 West Des Moines Valley (32-9) on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. back on Buena Vista University Diamond in the semifinals.

Spelhaug allowed just three hits over five innings, striking out five to improve to 22-2 on the season. Lara came on to finish it, tossing the final two innings with four strikeouts.

“We’re excited for what’s to come,” Lara said. “We have to get our work done each game and we did that. Before every game we get kind of nervous, but we use that to fuel us instead of it being a fear.

“We turned that nervousness into something positive.”

Lara added a no-doubt homer to center in the fourth after Emily Wood drove in Spelhaug with a triple in the third. Bell Luebken gave the Spartans insurance runs with a two-RBI single in the fifth.

Wood finished 3-for-4, with a handful of other players adding a base hit for Pleasant Valley, which has qualified three consecutive years for state.

“We have a routine and we have it down really good,” Lara said. “We know the routine and what it takes to win games, but it’s only going to get harder from here on out.”

Iowa City High (24-19) takes on seventh-ranked Johnston (27-11) in a consolation contest on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. on Veterans Diamond. The Little Hawks upset Cedar Rapids Prairie and Linn-Mar to qualify for the first time since 2001.

The team set new school records for home runs in a season with 33 and doubles (79), but were limited vs. the Spartans.

PLEASANT VALLEY 4,

IOWA CITY HIGH 0

IC High 000 000 0 — 0 3 1

Pleasant Valley 001 120 x — 4 9 0

WP–Ellie Spelhaug (22-2, 5 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 5 K, 0 BB); LP–Ayana Lindsey (12-11, 6 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 3 K, 0 BB)

HR–PV: Alexia Lara. 3B–PV: Emily Wood. RBI–PV: Emily Wood, Alexie Lara, Bell Luebken (2).