Solon was all smiles following Tuesday’s Class 3A state quarterfinal.
Scoring 18 runs, setting a few state tournament records and getting a no-hitter from your senior pitcher has a tendency to do that to a team.
Even longtime coach Jim White cracked a grin when discussing the Spartans’ 13-run second inning in Tuesday’s 18-0, three-inning win over defending 3A champion Clarke.
The smile from White and the celebration from the top-ranked Spartans were both short lived.
Solon (40-3) quickly turned its attention to Thursday’s all-WAMAC semifinal showdown with eighth-ranked Center Point-Urbana (30-13) set for 11 a.m. at Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge.
“I’ve actually done something like this before and then all of a sudden everybody thinks it’s done and it’s not done,” White said of the quarterfinal win. “Nothing is done yet we just played really, really well once.”
Saying Solon played really well on Tuesday is a bit of an understatement.
So too is saying the Spartans were ready for the quarterfinal matchup.
Solon followed an uncharacteristically tight performance in a 5-1 regional final win over PCM with what White described as the best week of practice he’s ever been associated with leading up to Tuesday’s state tournament opener.
“What set the tone was we have had fantastic practices every single day,” White said.
Solon unleashed its focused energy on Clarke on Tuesday, scoring at least twice in every inning while finishing with 15 hits.
The Spartans set a state tournament record with 13 runs in the second inning and matched the previous record for runs in a state tournament game with 18.
“That week in between we didn’t take any days off, we really got back at it, we were serious all week, we didn’t let off the gas,” Solon junior Sydney Lawson said. “We came out strong and we had a mission and I think we definitely accomplished our first step.”
With the first step done, Solon sets its focus on a rematch with Center Point-Urbana.
Solon swept a doubleheader from the Stormin’ Pointers in June, winning 6-3 and 14-2 in four innings.
The doubleheader sweep at Solon started a string that saw Center Point-Urbana lose seven of its next eight.
Center Point-Urbana righted the ship and has won five straight and 10 of 11, including a 10-5 quarterfinal win over No. 7 Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley heading into Thursday’s semifinal.
Solon brings an 11-game winning streak in Thursday’s 3A semifinal and has allowed five combined runs during that stretch.
“Our confidence is getting a lot higher and now we are just focusing in on getting to the next level,” senior pitcher Emily Ira said. “We are pretty strong right now, we’re really close with each other so if we get down someone picks us right back up. We’re playing as a team.”
Ira tossed a three-inning no-hitter with five strikeouts and was one of nine different Solon players with a hit on Tuesday.
The bottom four hitters in the Solon batting order combined for six hits, seven runs and six RBI in the quarterfinal win.
“I always want to get all the kids off to a great start and all nine looked good,” White said. “They all looked, good our runners coming in looked good so we are ready to go confidence wise for Thursday.”
Class 3A State Tournament Semifinal
No. 1 Solon (40-3) vs. No. 8 Center Point-Urbana (30-13)
• When: Thursday, 11 a.m.
• Where: Buena Vista Field at Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge
• Stat Leaders: Solon – Sydney Lawson .568 BA, 80 Runs; Taylor Nearad .530 BA, 71 RBI; Emily Ira 26-2, .49 ERA, 343 Ks. Center Point-Urbana – Maddie Karr .436 BA, 16 HR, 54 RBI; Megan Croghan .419 BA, 40 RBI; Samantha Croghan 18-8, 2.08 ERA, 94 K.
• About the Spartans: The state leader in runs scored and team batting average, Solon set a pair of state tournament records for offensive production in an 18-0 quarterfinal win over defending 3A champion Clarke. The Spartans returned to the state semifinals for the second straight season after reaching the 4A title game last year. Solon has outscored foes 115-5 during its current 11-game winning streak.
• About the Stormin’ Pointers: Center Point-Urbana scored 10 unanswered runs to overcome an early 5-0 deficit in a 10-5 quarterfinal win over No. 7 Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley. This is the first semifinal appearance in program history for Center Point-Urbana which is making its third state tournament appearance. The Stormin’ Pointers have lost eight games this season to teams playing in state semifinal games on Thursday.
• What to watch: Solon had 27 hits in 53 at bats (.509 average) in a double header sweep of the Stormin’ Pointers in the regular season. The Spartans won 6-3 and 14-2 in four innings back on June 17.