State Softball: What a Debut! Iowa City West Pops Ottumwa
By Jeff Linder, Reporter
Mackenzie Laux worked around six illegal-pitch calls, pitching a five-hit shutout as ninth-ranked Iowa City West made a successful state-softball debut with a 5-0 Class 5A quarterfinal win over No. 8 Ottumwa on Tuesday at the Rogers Sports Complex.
"We've wanted to get here for so long," said West's Morgan Ryan, who collected two hits and drove in a pair of runs. "We wanted to make a big impact, and we did."
The Women of Troy (37-6) have a semifinal date with No. 1 Ankeny at 7 p.m. Thursday. The Hawkettes (37-6) drummed Marshalltown, 13-0.
This wasn't the Laux's first dance with illegality. She was called for 16 illegal pitches in a regional-semifinal win over Dubuque Hempstead.
"We made adjustments for the regional finals (against Cedar Rapids Prairie), and I didn't get called for any," she said. "When you get called, you just have to ignore it, adjust and think positive."
The consequences were minimal. Once, a runner on base advanced a base. Another time came on a 3-1 swing that turned into ball four.
"They said she was outside the lane (of the pitching rubber), or she was dragging her foot off the ground," said West Coach Jeff Kelley. "They say you get better through adversity. We hunkered down and Mackenzie fought through it."
West played from ahead the whole way, scoring twice in the bottom of the first and forcing the Bulldogs (34-9) to play catchup to no avail.
"Huge," Ryan said. "We want to score early and put pressure on the other team."
If there were any state-tournament nerves, they never surfaced.
"We just didn't want to make it any more than it was," Kelley said. "It was a softball game, and we've played a lot of them."
Tatum Klein led off the first with a single, advanced to second on Brianna Sturtz's sacrifice bunt and scored on Shelly Stumpff's single. West's second run scored on an errant throw.
Ryan's two-run single made it 4-0 in the third, then Sturtz singled home Grace Tafolla in the fourth for the final tally.
Ottumwa got two runners to third base, but Laux and an errorless defense shut the door.
Laux retired the final seven batters she faced.
Michaela Recker added two hits for the Women of Troy.