Iowa returns to state tournament, Yellow Jackets’ first trip since 2012
IOWA — Iowa’s nearly decade-long state tournament drought is over.
A steady performance in the circle by Arlee Darbonne and two big defensive plays in the sixth inning propelled No. 4 Iowa to a 2-1 win over No. 5 Iota on Saturday in the Class 3A quarterfinals.
Iowa (25-5) will play No. 1 Grant on Field 13 at 11 a.m. Friday at North Frasch Park in Sulphur.
It will be the second state semifinal appearance in program history for Iowa, which lost to Parkview Baptist in the 2012 semifinals.
“It feels great,” Iowa head coach Kenzie Singletary said. “It is the second time in school history that they made it, so it feels good.
“These girls have prepared for that. We have put them in pressure situations so we knew they would get it done.”
Darbonne scattered six hits with two strikeouts and no walks.
“She was one fire today,” Singletary said of his ace pitcher. “She hit a lot of spots. She did a great job of keeping them off balance as well. She was ready for today.”
Darbonne credited the defense in keeping her on track, especially in the sixth inning.
Iota’s Dixie Guidry led off with a single up the middle and moved to second on a Maci Wright sacrifice bunt. With the Bulldogs threatening to tie the score, second baseman Ana Alexander made a diving catch on a pop-up towards first base, and center fielder Kylie Boudreaux made an equally spectacular catch with Guidry on third base.
“I couldn’t have done it without my team,” Darbonne said. “Having an amazing defense behind me and a great group of hitters to back me up is all I could ask for. That (sixth inning) really got me going.
“My hitting was really bad today so I was really focused on that and the girls picked me up every time. I know they got my back no matter what.”
Iota pitcher Joslyn Fruge limited Iowa two five hits, but the Yellow Jackets made the most of their opportunities.
Karagan Howard hit a sac fly to score Boudreaux in the first inning, and Kamryn Howard’s sac fly in the fourth inning broke a 1-1 tie.
“Their pitcher did a great job of keeping us off balance,” Singletary said. “We got lucky a few times and put the ball where it needed to be.
“We had a hard time hitting her.”
Iota got a leadoff hit from Peyton DuBose in the top of the seventh, but Darbonne retired three consecutive batters to end the game.
The Yellow Jackets’ Karagan Howard connects with a pitch from Iota’s Joslyn Fruge during a Class 3A quarterfinal playoff game Saturday at Iowa High School.