EDIT: The regional semifinal game in Osceola is 7 p.m. Friday, not Thursday as originally published.
The Clarke softball team entered its final two games of the conference schedule having already clinched at least a share of the South Central Conference championship.
But head coach Lindsay Diehl didn’t want to settle for just a shared conference championship.
“After we beat Chariton, I knew we had sealed up a portion of it, but knowing both teams we had to face had a shot,” Diehl said about Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont and Albia, both of which had two conference losses.
If Clarke lost both games, the Lady Indians would have shared the conference championship.
But, the Lady Indians outscored the two teams 10-0, clinching a third straight conference championship and going undefeated in conference play.
Clarke finished the regular season with a mark of 21-8 and 10-0 in the conference. Over the three year reign at the top of the conference, the Lady Indians went 29-1 in the South Central Conference, losing only to Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont last year.
Clarke picked up a 3-0 win at Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont on July 2.
Libby Bemis struck out nine and gave up just two hits in the win.
The Lady Indians didn’t get on the scoreboard until the top of the fifth inning. Sara Andrew led off, reaching on an error and moved to third base on a Carley Robins groundout, eventually scoring on a passed ball.
Clarke added two insurance runs in the top of the sixth inning. Kennedy Crees singled and Vanessa Bakley walked, with Crees scoring on a Bemis bunt. Robins drove in Bakley with a single to make the final 3-0 margin.
“The break was good for us,” Diehl said, after her team had a layoff from games because of weather and teams pulling out of games to make up conference games.
“We went over there and played really well, looked relaxed and looked like ourselves. They stayed loose the whole time and didn’t feel the need to press.”
The Lady Indians finished off the perfect conference season with a 7-0 win over Albia on July 3.
“Libby threw really well on the mound,” Diehl said. “When they came to our place, their pitcher, we were having a hard time getting on her. But I felt like up and down the lineup, we hit the ball hard.”
Bemis struck out 14, giving up just three hits in the game.
Clarke got on the board in the top of the third inning, when Bemis hit a one-out double. Courtesy runner Chynna Beydler advanced to third base on an error and stole home when Devon Carson was thrown out trying to steal second base.
The Lady Indians added two more in the top of the fifth inning. Bakley led off with a single and advanced to second on a passed ball and stole third, eventually scoring on a Carson single.
Carson scored on a Robins groundout to make it 3-0 in favor of Clarke.
Sydnee Redman started a rally in the sixth inning with a walk. Redman and Kennedy Crees eventually scored on a Bemis double. Beydler then scored on an Andrew double.
Clarke added one more for insurance in the top of the seventh when Redman, who reached on an error, scored on an Amanda Kindred single.
Clarke was scheduled to being regional play Tuesday at home against Centerville. A win would advance the Lady Indians to the regional semifinals here Friday, against either Shenandoah or Clarinda at 7 p.m.
The regional final is 7 p.m. Monday in Winterset. Possible opponents include ADM, West Central Valley, Atlantic and Red Oak.