SOLON — This time, nothing to chance. The Solon Spartans didn’t allow a seventh-inning rally, partly because they didn’t allow a seventh inning.
Arran Weeces pitched a five-inning no-hitter and hit her first home run of the season as top-rated Solon blasted Independence, 10-0, in a Class 3A regional softball final last night at the Solon High School athletic complex.
“I was ready. We were ready,” Weeces said. “We’ve been looking forward to this game the whole season.”
Solon (35-6) advances to the state tournament for the ninth time, including the eighth time in the last 10 years. The Spartans will face Waukon (14-17) at 7 p.m. Monday at the Rogers Sports Complex, Fort Dodge.
Last year, the Spartans qualified, went 0-3 and came home in eighth place in 3A. This year, they’re heading west as the team to beat.
“We’re going to have to play our game to come out on top,” said Solon Coach Ben Sorden. “Everybody’s always out to get us.”
Exhibit A: A first-round super-scare against Mount Vernon, in which the Spartans lost a 4-0 seventh-inning lead and were down to their last out before scoring three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to survive.
“That was definitely an eye-opener,” Weeces said. “You have to play all seven innings, until the game is over.”
This one was over in a hurry. Weeces struck out the side in the top of the first, then Solon had two runs on the board before the first out was recorded.
Emily Bransky singled, Alyssa Rickels chopped an infield single and Bransky scored on a throwing error, then Taylor Nearad ripped an RBI single up the middle to make it 2-0.
Three batters, two runs, one pitching change.
Solon added two runs in the second on Weeces’ towering homer to left.
“It was an inside fastball. When I hit it, I thought, ‘Oh, no. It’s just a popup,’ ” Weeces said.
But it kept carrying, and it gave Solon a 4-0 lead.
The Spartans hit for the cycle in the third inning — a triple by Rickels, a double by Nearad, Kara Misel’s 13th home run of the season, then a single by Mel Breza — for a 7-0 advantage, then tacked on one run in the fourth and scored twice before an out was recorded in the fifth to wrap it up.
Five of Solon’s 12 hits were of the extra-base variety.
Other than a brief hiccup to start the second inning, Weeces (18-2) was brilliant. She struck out eight and walked two.
Those came back-to-back in the second, loading the bases with one out and prompting a visit from Sorden.
“He told me not to walk anybody else,” Weeces said. “He told me just to throw hard.”
She did, fanning the next two and retiring the final 11 batters she faced.
Independence retired at 17-21.
|3A Regional Final||R||H||E|
|Independence||0 0 0||0 0||–||0||0||4|
|Solon||2 2 3||1 2||–||10||12||1|
No outs when game-ending run scored.
Steph McMillan, Monica Crawford (1), McMillan (3) and Kelsey Ratchford. Arran Weeces and Hannah Turkal. W — Weeces (18-2). L — McMillan (10-10). HR — Solon: Weeces (1), Kara Misel (13).