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Softball: Olson's No-No Lifts Jefferson Over Washington

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa Don't aim. Just let it rip.

That was Alyssa Olson's pitching strategy Saturday night. It worked beautifully.

Olson struck out 14 batters in a five-inning no-hitter, and 10th-ranked Cedar Rapids Jefferson banged out 12 hits in an 11-0 romp over Cedar Rapids Washington in a Class 5A softball regional semifinal at Larry Niemeyer Field.

"Ninety-five percent of the time, the ball is going to do what it wants to do, so I didn't want to fight it too much," Olson said. "I just let the ball do what it wanted."

The ball apparently wanted to elude the Warriors' bats. There was a ground out, a walk, a hit batsman ... and 14 whiffs.

"We're going to take our cuts, and sometimes the strikeouts can get into your heads," said Washington Coach Fanaye Wooldrik. "If you go up there and you aren't successful, that's going to chip away at your confidence."

Jefferson (30-11) gets its shot at No. 1 Muscatine in the regional final at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The Muskies (37-3) handled Bettendorf, 12-1, Saturday.

Tuesday's winner advances to the state tournament July 22-26 at the Rogers Sports Complex, Fort Dodge.

The J-Hawks lost the coinflip Saturday, and were forced to bat first. They made it work to their advantage, getting on the board before Olson took the mound.

Dani Stromert singled to start the game, then scored on Amber Grimm's triple to put Jefferson ahead to stay.

"Hitting first, it certainly was an advantage tonight," said Jefferson Coach Brian Erbe. "To bat first and score first, that wasn't bad at all."

The J-Hawks' No. 3 hitter, Grimm was 4-for-4, drove in two runs and scored a pair herself.

"I had to do what I needed to do," Grimm said. "Washington has been winning games, so we knew we had to come out and play hard and not look past them."

Jefferson added two runs in the second inning on RBI singles by Katelyn Holub and Stromert, then broke it open with a five-run output in the fourth to make it 8-0.

Maddie Koolbeck's three-run double in the fifth closed out the scoring.

Washington retired at 14-25. The Warriors were outmatched Saturday, but this was a year of progress on the east side of town. Washington won 12 of its final 20 games, and earned more victories this season than the last four years combined.

"We started 2-17, and I started to think maybe this wasn't the year yet," Wooldrik said. "We turned it around, though, and it tasted so good for the kids.

"The next step, we've got to get to .500 and start competing with teams like Jefferson."

Stromert and Holub both were 2-for-2, and Stromert scored twice with two RBIs.

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