SOLON – Monday’s regular-season finale with West Liberty was scheduled as a postseason tune up for Solon.
Seniors Emily Ira and Ali Herdliska showed they have the Spartan engine running smoothly as regional play approaches.
Ira struck out 13 in a one-hit shutout and Herdliska drove in three runs with a pair of doubles as Class 3A top-ranked Solon (36-3) downed No. 11 West Liberty 10-0 in five innings Monday in the regular-season finale for both teams.
“It was really important for us to, as coach says, ‘get to the next level’ today,” Herdliska said. “We are just a little more focused now and we all know we are going for the same goal right now.”
Solon hammered out 13 hits Monday and will bring an eight-game winning streak into Wednesday’s regional opener against Williamsburg.
West Liberty dropped to 20-10 on the season and opens regional play at home against West Burlington Notre Dame Wednesday.
Ira was nearly perfect on Monday.
A one-out single by Kayla Kaalberg in the fourth inning was the only base runner allowed by the senior left-hander as she ran her season record to 22-2.
Ira struck out the first nine batters she faced Monday and allowed just three hitters to put the ball in play.
“It felt good,” Ira said. “It felt right, I’ve had a couple of bumps in the road lately and it felt right that everything was working and it was going smoothly.”
Herdliska and company made sure Ira had more than enough support.
Solon took a 2-0 lead in the second on a Monika Bevans single, an error, a McKenna Miller RBI groundout and a wild pitch.
The Spartans added two more in the third on an RBI single by Ira and a run-scoring double by Herdliska.
“I feel like we are a lot more focused now,” Herdliska said. “We are tuned in right now.”
Solon broke the game open in the fourth.
The Spartans sent 10 batters to the plate and had four hits in a five-run fourth inning that made the score 9-0.
Herdliska had a two-run double in the frame while senior Taylor Nearad added a two-run single.
“Each week we keep getting better,” Solon coach Jim White said. “They (West Liberty) are a good team and what I like is again we did a good job of adjusting.”
Solon ended the game in the fifth, triggering the run rule on an RBI single by Ira.
Sydney Lawson, Nichole Oberthein, Ira, Herdliska, Nearad and Bevans all had two hits for Solon on Monday.
“It’s worked out really, really well and we just have to keep pushing forward,” White said. “They are all in right now you can tell.”
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.
West Liberty…000 00—0 1 2
Solon…022 51—10 13 0
W—Emily Ira. L—Kyleigh Becker
2B—Ali Herdliska 2 (SOL).