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Tunnel vision

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Carlisle celebrate after a victory against North Scott during class 4A championship on Friday at Rogers Park

Jim Flaws was emotional long before he got one for his thumb Friday at Rogers Park.

Sixty former players formed a tunnel for Flaws and his players as they reached the pass gate prior to the start of the Class 4A state championship game. And in that moment, Flaws knew he was in for a special evening.

“It just touched my heart,” said Flaws, Carlisle’s Hall of Fame head coach. “They just gave me hugs like daughters and it made me realize we’ve got a pretty special thing here.”

Flaws’ players took the diamond and delivered the program’s fifth state championship and first since 2010, as top-ranked Carlisle held off third-ranked North Scott, 1-0. Flaws has been at the helm for all five titles.

“I’m just so proud of these girls,” Flaws said. “It’s a win for them, for the past players and the community. They listen to the things we said 25 years ago. Even though we’re old-fashioned, we still do the things that work.”

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Carlisle celebrate after a victory against North Scott during class 4A championship on Friday at Rogers Park

Both teams produced five hits, but Carlisle (38-3), which won its final 15 games of the season, made back-to-back singles in the third inning stand up for the game’s only run.

With two outs, speedster Delaney Schnathorst beat out an infield single and then quickly stole second to get into scoring position. All-state shortstop and UNI commit Alyvia Dubois followed with a line-drive base hit up the middle and Flaws sent Schanthorst to the plate.

A bullet throw from North Scott center fielder Brooke Kilburg beat Schnathorst to the plate, but the Carlisle junior got in under the tag.

“Yes, I was safe, I got under the tag,” Schnathorst said. “I don’t try and get out of the way, I just try to go as hard as I can into the plate.”

Dubois, arguably the best defensive shortstop in the state, was relieved to produce in the big moment.

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Carlisle Molly Hoekstra (left) and Lexxi Link hug their coach after defeating North Scott during class 4A championship on Friday at Rogers Park

“That was huge for me because coming into this game I hadn’t really been doing as much as I can for my team,” Dubois said. “In this game I knew I had to have confidence. I just relaxed, swung and it went right up the middle.”

Carlisle’s defense did the rest.

The Wildcats wiggled out of several jams, as North Scott (28-15) stranded seven runners on base, four in scoring position.

The Lancers best chance to score came in the sixth when they put runners on first and second with one out following consecutive singles by Sam Lee and Ryann Cheek.

With Lee on second, Carlisle pitcher Molly Hoekstra bounced a pitch to the plate and it got away from catcher Kennedy Preston, who was unable to quickly locate the ball. Lee sprinted to third and North Scott head coach Holly Hoelting waved her towards the plate.

Preston finally found the ball, wheeled and made the throw to Hoekstra, who put the tag right on the back of a sliding Lee for the out.

It was a perfect throw, actually. And, as it turns out, a lucky one, too.

“I’m not going to lie, it just kind of slipped out of my hand and went right into (Hoekstra’s) glove,” Preston, who hit a walk-off home run in the semifinals and was named the captain of the all-tournament team, said. “She was out.”

Relief pitcher Lexxi Link took over for Hoekstra following the play at the plate and recorded the final four outs for the save. Hoekstra and Link combined to walk three and fan three.

Carlisle made just one error.

“It definitely wasn’t comfortable and we were definitely trying to hit more and score more, but it wasn’t happening,” Schnathorst said. “But our awesome defense just pulled through.”

Flaws agreed.

“We’d just so solid (defensively),” he said. “If there’s a better shortstop (than Dubuois), I don’t know who it is. She’s one of the best I’ve ever had. But it’s not just her, it was everybody.”

Schnathorst and Lee both smacked two hits for their respective teams. Preston and Hoekstra also had base hits for Carlisle, while Taylor Robertson and Ashlynn Shannon had singles for North Scott.

Cheek took the loss inside the circle. Drew Lewis came out of the bullpen in the fourth inning and limited Carlisle to one hit over 2 2/3 innings of work.

Lewis pitched 13 1/3 scoreless innings, all in relief, during the state tournament.

Carlisle 1, North Scott 0

N. Scott 000 000 0 — 0 5 2

Carlisle 001 000 x– 1 5 1

Ryann Cheek, Drew Lewis (4) and Rachel Anderson. Molly Hoekstra, Lexxi Link (6) and Kennedy Preston. W — Hoekstra. L — Cheek. S — Link. Multiple hits — NS: Sam Lee; Carlisle: Delaney Schnathorst.