Marshalltown, Iowa -- Indian Hills rolled through the three games they played in this weekend's ICCAC postseason tournament the same way they had powered through the 20 games leading up to the tourney -- slugging their way to the program's 5th consecutive league postseason title, to go along with the five straight regular-season crowns they've garnered. The Warriors defeated each of the other three conference teams to run their streak to five, beating Marshalltown, 11-3, and Iowa Western, 1-0, on Friday, before wrapping things up with a 4-0 whitewashing of Southeastern Saturday. Indian Hills will now take a 21-game win streak into next weekend's District J tournament against Missouri champ, Crowder, which will bring a 54-3 season record to Ottumwa for the best-of-three series, slated to begin Friday at R.L. Hellyer Field.
The Warriors trailed Marshalltown 1-0 after the first half-inning of the ICCAC tourney, but scored twice in the 3rd inning to go ahead. The Tigers took a brief 3-2 advantage into the bottom of the 4th when the IHCC offense got going. Brooke Snider cranked a two-run home run as part of a four-run inning and Snider belted another homer the next inning, her two-run shot ending the game early. Chloe Olson also went deep for the Warriors who got two hits each from Snider, Macey Harrington and Olson. Nina Hendriks started for Indian Hills and was replaced by Alexis Groet with one out in the 4th inning. Groet fanned three in her 1 2/3 innings and she was credited with the victory.
Friday's second game was a pitcher's duel between Groet and Iowa Western's Julie Katz. The only run of the game scored on Alexis Westercamp's home run in the 2nd, the only hit the Warriors managed off Katz. Groet fired a two-hitter of her own with nine Ks.
That put IHCC in Saturday's game against SCC and two more homers helped the Warriors' cause against the Blackhawks. Snider broke a 0-0 deadlock with a two-run homer in the 3rd, and Reints smashed a long home run to left-center the next inning. Westercamp provided an insurance run with a two-out RBI single in the 6th. Groet threw another two-hit shutout and during the game became the single-season strikeout leader, ending the day with a season total of 273.
Afterwards, coach Lindsay Diehl said her team has come a long way since starting the spring with a 3-8 record in their southern trip. "I think going to Texas and playing tough teams was good for us," Diehl said. "When we got back we were able to make adjustments at the plate after seeing some really good pitching down there. Our mental game really started to come along as well. Being process-related and not outcome-based finally sunk in."
The six homers in the tournament pushes the season total to 85, a number Diehl said is not totally surprising. "I thought we would be able to put runs on the board for sure while we worked in the winter. I can't say I predicted 85 home runs at this point. But we swung the bats every day and made some major growth in our swings through individual work, so I'm really excited for what the girls have done offensively."
Diehl, who was a part of two Indian Hills teams that won district championships and advanced to the NJCAA national tourney when she played at IHCC in the early 2000s, said her squad's major focus this week is going to be how they approach the games against the Missouri champs. "We need to play with confidence. The players have the skill and the ability to be successful -- they can play with anyone when they want to. This group is really fun and I honestly think they finally believe me when I tell them they are going to Utah. They have put themselves in the position to make that a reality."
Game one of the Crowder series will start at 2:00 Friday afternoon.