OTTUMWA — Ottumwa fans at R.L. Hellyer Field Thursday afternoon had a lot to celebrate. Start with one of the very few sunny, warm days — add to that a chance to honor four Warrior sophomores finishing their regular-season careers. The real celebration, however, took place after IHCC downed No. 14 Iowa Western 4-0 and 2-1 in Region XI softball action.
The two wins gave the Warriors a 20-win season, the No. 2 seed in this weekend's Region XI tournament and the distinction of being the only Region XI team to defeat the Rievers.
"This should help us be up and confident for this weekend," said Warrior coach Jim Overturf. "I think we match up well with IWCC, and if we take care of business early, we'll be ready to take them on again."
As they did earlier in the season in Council Bluffs, the Warriors outhit IWCC in both games. This gave the Warriors a majority of the day's scoring chances. IHCC used eight hits to score its four opening-game runs. In the nightcap, the Warriors scored only a pair of runs, but they did manage to register hits in every inning.
Kendle Schieber's dominant game in the pitcher's circle allowed the Warriors to control the opener throughout. Schieber only yielded four hits to the visitors and struck out 11.
"This was probably my best overall game of the season," said Schieber. "My drop ball was pretty good today."
A full swing at bat let Hiliary Pennington lead off the home first with a double, but the Warriors left her stranded. Schieber led off the second with a double, but again, the Warriors couldn't score.
Schieber recorded at least two strikeouts in each of the first innings. The Rievers got two hits in the third, but a great play by Olivia Starcevich, deep in the hole at short, helped keep the visitors scoreless.
The Warriors used two hits and two Riever errors in the third to score three unearned runs. Laci Moore opened with a single, and, once again, Pennington, the Warriors' premier slapper, lined a single to the outfield to put two runners on.
"I don't do that often, but the first time we played them, their slap defense was pretty good," said Pennington. "Once we get up, I go back to slapping."
A Riever misplay of a fly to left field allowed the first two runs to score. The third run scored on an RBI walk to Cheyenne Ellis. IWCC never mounted a serious scoring threat over the final three innings, and Schieber used strikeouts 10 and 11 to close out the visitors' final at bat.
The Warriors tacked on their final run in the sixth. Slap hitter Moore led off the inning with an infield single.
"I never attempted a slap from the left side in high school," said Moore. "I have felt really comfortable seeing the ball the last couple of weeks."
"All of our slappers have been on fire the last month or so," added Overturf. "They give us lots of chances to score. We just need the middle of our order to get back to delivering those runs."
The small ball, or speed ball, game of the Warriors led to the game-two win. Pennington led off the game with a slap for a hit, and Starcevich's bunt single put runners on first and second. Kaylyn DeCock had the RBI to put IHCC up 1-0.
Starting pitcher Courtney Collins blanked the visitors in the first four innings to run the Rievers' scoreless inning drought to 11. IWCC had two hits in the second, but a great running catch by left fielder Felisha Durflinger to start the inning helped keep the Rievers off the board.
The Warriors, who left 11 runners stranded in game two, left the bases loaded in the second.
Iowa Western tied it at one in the fifth on an RBI single by Beka Sanchez. Mackenzie Haight came on in relief and held the visitors scoreless the rest of the way.
"We have used these two pitchers together in games before," said Overturf. "They were tough today."
The Warriors scored the game winner in the seventh. Pennington's infield slap was followed by a perfectly placed bunt for a hit by Starcevich.
"I think the defense has to rush on plays like that," said Starcevich. "I'm really confident when Hiliary (Pennington) gets on ahead of me."
Decock singled to load the bases, and a Riever error let the winning run score. Overturf talked about his defense, which had just played an errorless doubleheader.
"Our defense lets our pitchers be confident doing their job," Overturf said. "It's part of our game that should really help us this weekend."
The (20-26) Warriors will host this weekend's Region XI tournament. The action starts at 10 a.m. Saturday with Iowa Western playing Southeastern. The Warriors will open play at noon Saturday versus Muscatine.
Indian Hills 4, Iowa Western 0
IWCC 000 000 0 — 0 4 3
IHCC 003 001 x — 4 8 0
IWCC battery — Ashley Schmidt (LP) (6IP, 8H, 4R, 0ER, 4K, 4BB), KayCee Miller catching.
Hits —Sanchez 1-for-1, Michelle Trulin 1-for-2, Miller 1-3, Morgan Hoeg 1-for-3.
RBI — none. Runs — none.
IHCC battery — Schieber (WP) (7IP, 4H, 0R, 0ER, 11K, 1BB), DeCook catching.
2B — Pennington, Schieber.
Hits —Pennington 3-for-4, Kaitlyn Matzen 1-for-4, DeCook 1-for-4, Schieber 1-for-4, Moore 2-for-3.
RBI — Ellis. Runs — Pennington, Starcevich, DeCook, Moore.
IHCC 2, Iowa Western 1
IWCC 000 010 0 — 1 6 1
IHCC 100 000 1 — 2 12 0
IWCC battery — Audrey Vogel (LP) (6 1/3IP, 12H, 2R, 1ER, 5K, 1BB), Miller catching.
2B — Sam Villegas.
Hits —Sanchez 1-for-4, Trulin 1-for-3, Villegas 1-for-3, Vanessa Molina 2-for-3, Jena Gonzalez 1-for-3.
RBI — Sanchez. Runs — Molina.
IHCC battery — Collins (4 2/3IP, 5H, 1R, 1ER, 4K, 0BB), Haight (WP) (2 1/3IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 0K, 1BB), Decock catching.
Hits —Pennington 3-for-4, Starcevich 2-for-4, Matzen 1 -for-4, DeCook 2-for-4, Schieber 1-for-4, Moore 2-for-3, Jaylyn Tressler 1-for-3.
Decock. Runs — Pennington