Iowa Park vs. Argyle softball Game 3 UIL Regional Final Score
BOWIE — Eric Simmons brought a change of clothes to Thursday’s game against Argyle just in case he gets a Gatorade bath.
Argyle made sure the soaking never happened.
The Iowa Park coach superstitiously left the extra clothes at home Saturday afternoon before the Lady Hawks met the Lady Eagles in Game 3 of the I-4A Finals.
Then Iowa Park left no doubt that it is the best team in the region. Thanks to a seven-run fourth inning, the Lady Hawks will return to Austin after claiming a 10-4 win.
Iowa Park meets defending Class 4A State Champion Liberty in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Thursday at McCombs Field in Austin. The other semifinal will pit Bullard against Sweeny at 4 p.m. Thursday. The two semi-final winners play for the championship at 1 p.m. Saturday.
While many thought Iowa Park was a lock in defending its regional title because it fired every starter, Simmons and the Lady Hawks knew that was not the case. That’s why the team harassed pitcher Abby Dowell after ending the game with a strikeout.
“It’s never easy. In this game, anyone can be beaten at any time,” Simmons said. “It’s hard work, not just during the season, but during the offseason. It’s hard work for many of our children, and now they’re reaping the rewards.
Dowell was knocked out in Game 2 on Thursday – a 9-0 loss that was the program’s worst loss in more than three years. But the junior southpaw looked sharp early on, striking out nine of Argyle’s first 10 batters she faced.
“I just knew we had a fresh start and I felt good in the warmup, so I knew I had to go get them in the first run,” Dowell said. “I love that feeling. I love my team and everything about us.
It was late in the fourth inning when Argyle took control in Game 2, and that’s exactly when Iowa Park took control on Saturday. The Lady Hawks’ first nine batters reached base, resulting in seven runs.
The big hit was Cat Prisock’s double, but Gracie Justus and Paige Gallegos also had RBI singles. Argyle also didn’t help pitcher Ava Edwards’ cause by making several mistakes.
Justus finished with four RBIs, giving Iowa Park a 2-0 lead in the second with a goal-loaded single down the middle. The Lady Hawks’ shooting depth is one of the reasons the team is so hard to beat.
“That’s what makes us so strong is that our roster is pretty strong from top to bottom,” Simmons said. “If our numbers 3-4 are struggling, then numbers 7-8 can take us back.”
The run support was more than enough for Dowell, who admits he got fired up in the fourth as Lady Hawk after Lady Hawk made it to base. Iowa Park blocked loaded bases, or it could have been in a pardon rule situation.
Argyle scored three times in the sixth behind Oklahoma committing Maya Bland’s double, but Dowell kept control, finishing with seven strikeouts and just five hits allowed.
Senior starters Raylea Parsons and Rylee Goins graduated Friday night and then made it a very special weekend by winning Saturday’s playoff game.
“Thursday we didn’t play very well, we weren’t ourselves,” Parsons said. “Every time we came back here, we felt like it was our time, it was our time to shine. We will finish our business once we get to Austin.
The team’s state hotel reservations were already booked ahead of Game 3. The Lady Hawks made sure no cancellations would be necessary after hitting a timely strike and another Dowell gem.
It was a loud environment at Lady Rabbit Field, and it made for a fun afternoon for the Iowa Park devotees.
And a sticky, wet return to the bus for Simmons, who finally took her Gatorade bath.
I-4A REGION FINALS
Iowa Park 10, Argyle 4
Argyle 000 103 0 -4 5 4
Park Iowa 020 701 ext -10 10 2
W: Abby Dowell. L : Ava Edwards.
2B: (A) Maya Bland; (IP) Paige Gallegos, Raylea Parsons, Cat Prisock; 3B: (A) Keira Inman.
Lead hitters: (A) Taylor Platt 1×2, 2 points; Bland 1×2, run, 2 RBI; (IP) Gracie Justus 2×3, running, 4 RBI; Isabella Dickens 2×3, racing; Gallegos 2×4, 2 tracks, RBI.
Top pitchers: (IP) Dowell 7 IP, 4 hits, BB, 4 runs, 3 ER, 7 K.
To note: Iowa Park qualifies for the 4A State Tournament.