FORT DODGE - The Houge sisters took care of the pitching and hitting, and the defense did its job all the way around to get Collins-Maxwell into the 1A championship game of the state softball tournament with a 1-0 semifinal win over Lisbon Wednesday.
All-state pitcher Mikayla Houge threw a one-hitter with 10 strikeouts, and her little sister Alexis picked up three of Collins-Maxwell’s four hits and scored the game’s only run. Collins-Maxwell also went without an error in the field, stepping up big late to finish off the Lions.
“We have played very well fundamentally, defensively and offensively,” Mikayla said. “We started off a little slow — we had chances to score — but defensively we made all the plays we had to.”
Mikayla was her dominant self early, retiring the first 13 batters she faced with eight strikeouts. But after Stacia Hall singled with one out in the fifth, Lisbon began putting the ball in play with regularity.
Mikayla had to field several of the balls off bunt attempts.
Collins-Maxwell struggled fielding bunts in its regional final win over Glidden-Ralston, and Lisbon tried to expose that weakness. The Lions bunted four times, but Mikayla was in perfect position to get the ball and make the throw to first on each occasion.
“Bunt defense was something we were working hard on,” Mikayla said. “We were able to field those well today.”
In the top of the seventh inning, Olivia Pasquariello caught a pop up to second base and Alexis snared a high fly ball to short for the first two outs. Sam Schrantz came up to bat for Lisbon and ripped a liner to left field that looked like a potential double, but Emma Kahler came running in to make a diving catch to end the game.
“Our whole defense was on point today,” Spartan catcher Hannah Caple said. “They were so good. Emma Kahler out in left field had a great catch, Olivia Pasquariello at second was so good, (third baseman) Reagan (Franzen) was good — everybody was good on defense. It was awesome.”
Caple drove in Alexis Houge on a grounder in the top of the first inning for the game’s lone run. Alexis hit a leadoff single, moved to second on a sacrifice from Katie Camp and took third on an error to set up Caple.
“I knew there was only one out, so all I had to do was either sac fly or hit it to the right side to get her in because she’s so fast,” Caple said. “I was just so excited when she crossed that plate.”
Alexis finished 3-for-3 with a steal to go along with her run. She has been quite the spark plug for the Spartan offense at state, going 4-for-6 with three runs and steals apiece over two games as an eighth-grader.
“That is my role,” Alexis said. “I always have to try my hardest to get on base. If I don’t, I know I have to the next time and I have to get around the bases and make sure that I score for our team.”
A double by Mikayla in the bottom of the sixth accounted for Collins-Maxwell’s only other hit.
The Spartans will take a 29-1 record into Thursday’s 1A championship game. They will be gunning for a state title in their first year as a program against No. 4 AGWSR (28-7), a 12-5 winner over No. 3 Akron-Westfield in the other 1A semifinal game.
“It feels so good,” Caple said. “I want to win it for our community and fans. They’re so awesome to us and I just want to go and win it for them.”
Thursday’s 1A title game takes place at 6 p.m. on the Buena Vista University Diamond at the Rogers Athletic Complex.
Collins-Maxwell 1, Lisbon 0
L 000 000 0 - 0 1 1
CM 100 000 X - 1 4 0
L: Skylar Sadler and Reegan Happel.
CM: Mikayla Houge and Hannah Caple.
2B: CM - Houge.