Opposing coaches hoping Clarke will be down in softball after this year's senior class graduates are in for a rude awakening.
The Class 3A third-ranked Lady Indians started the postseason trail with a 7-0 win over South Central Conference foe Centerville here on Tuesday, but it was the underclassmen who provided the offensive spark.
Clarke hit three home runs in the game — two by freshmen and one by a sophomore.
"The conference coaches are kind of hoping we'll be a bit down after this year's seniors graduate," Clarke head coach Lindsay Diehl said. "So he's got to be sitting over there thinking to himself, 'who are these young girls hitting these home runs?'"
The two teams were scoreless through four and a half innings, as Clarke pitcher Libby Bemis worked out of jams in the third and fourth innings. The leadoff batter in each inning reached via walk, but both times the Lady Indians got the lead runner at second base on a sacrifice bunt attempt to keep the Redettes out of scoring position.
Those four baserunners were the only baserunners Bemis allowed in the game as she pitched a no-hitter with nine strikeouts and just the two walks.
Diehl praised Bemis for working around a tight strike zone, adjusting as the game went along.
Freshman Sydnee Redman then broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth inning when she smacked a leadoff home run to center field.
After the next two batters recorded outs, senior Kennedy Crees singled and then freshman shortstop Vanessa Bakley blasted a two-run shot to left field, giving the Lady Indians a 3-0 lead.
Junior catcher Kassidy Spurgin and Redman led off the bottom of the sixth inning with back-to-back singles. Sophomore Ally Deutsch, who was the benefactor of a lineup re-shuffling, delivered a three-run homer to left-center field.
Diehl said she was proud of Deutsch for stepping up in a big way in her first opportunity back in the lineup after coming off the bench recently.
Redman and Deutsch shared the game ball for their home runs, and also their play on defense.
Bakley drove in another run in the sixth inning, as her single up the middle scored Mackenzi Otto for the final 7-0 margin.
The Lady Indians return to action in regional play Friday at home against Shenandoah, which was a 14-2 winner over Clarinda on Tuesday. That game is scheduled for 7 p.m.
The winner faces either Atlantic or ADM at 7 p.m. Monday in Winterset.