Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
SOLON – A bout with illness forced Kayla West to miss most of the final week of the regular season.
The sophomore pitcher looked fully healthy in the Spartans’ postseason opener on Tuesday.
West struck out 11 in a two-hit shutout as tenth-ranked Solon rolled to a 9-0 win over South Tama in a Class 3A, Region 6 quarterfinal in Solon.
“It was pretty rough,” West said of the illness that kept her out of action for the better part of a week. “I didn’t think I was my best today but I felt pretty good.”
West was more than pretty good on Tuesday.
She struck out two in each of the first five innings while allowing just one baserunner on a one-out singe by Abbie Parizek in the fourth.
The strong outing from West sends Solon (26-8) into the Region 6 semifinal where it will host WAMAC rival Benton Community (25-14) on Friday at 7 p.m.
“It’s really exciting, I know how that rivalry feels and I’m really excited,” Solon junior Taylor Ryan said. “I know a lot of those girls so it will be fun.”
West got plenty of help from the rest of the pitching staff last week while appearing in just two of the Spartans’ final six regular season games.
Sophomores Peyton Sands and Madison Sprague and eighth-grader Carly Ellison filled in for West who has logged more than 100 more innings than any other Solon player this season.
“It was really awesome for the team and for Kayla to see that she doesn’t have to do things on her own, our other pitchers stepped up and were phenomenal,” Solon coach Erin White said. “I was more concerned about her. Softball was second to being concerned about her because she is so tough that when she is missing stuff you know she is really sick and that was hard to watch.”
West got more help from her teammates in her return to the circle on Tuesday.
Solon hammered 11 hits on Tuesday and scored twice in each of the first two innings to take an early 4-0 lead.
Taylor Moore had an RBI single in the first and Ryan added an RBI single in the second.
“We’ve been talking all week about not overlooking any team,” Ryan said. “We came into this game approaching it like a big game.”
The early lead was more than enough for West who retired the first 10 batters she faced before Parizel lined a single to left in the fourth.
West improved to 19-3 on the season with her first complete game shutout since blanking Anamosa on June 18.
“I was a little nervous because I hadn’t been able to work on anything so I was just kind of winging it,” West said. “It was a little difficult but I worked through it.”
Solon got a single run in the fourth when Jada Buffington plated Jenna LaDage with an RBI single.
The Spartans broke the game open with a four-run fifth.
Monet Barnhouse had an RBI single and Ryan drove in two runs with a single up the middle to push the lead to 9-0.
“We definitely wanted to push one early but I don’t let them think about that,” White said. “I just want them to have quality at bats and I try to take care of producing a run somehow and they did a really good job of staying focused.”
Ryan finished 3-for-4 with three RBI and Skylar Stookey had two hits and an RBI.
South Tama loaded the bases with one out in the seventh on a walk, a hit batsmen and a single by Dalaynee Henle.
West escaped the jam by getting Abby Sandvick to pop out to second and striking out Kenze Smith.
“She is doing much better,” White said of West. “We were working a little bit towards what we think we are going to face and trying some things and getting her back in the rhythm.
South Tama 000 000 0 – 0 2 4
Solon 220 140 x – 9 11 0
W – Kayla West L – Ashlynn Ellenbecker
2B – SOL: Jenna LaDage, Skylar Stookey