FORT DODGE, Iowa — Sioux City Heelan coach Todd Vlaanderen recalled his thoughts after seeing Paige Lowary pitch.
“I said, ‘I just saw the best pitcher in the state of Iowa today,' ” he said.
That was two years ago. Lowary had just completed the eighth grade at Dallas Center-Grimes.
Now a sophomore, Lowary is still wowing people. The Missouri recruit tossed a one-hit shutout and blasted two home runs in the second-rated Fillies' 3-0 Class 4-A state quarterfinal win over No. 9 Heelan on Tuesday at the Rogers Sports Complex.
“We kind of ran into a little bit too much Paige Lowary today,” Vlaanderen said.
Lowary, a 5-foot-9 lefty who also had offers from Arizona and Oregon, said she touched 71 mph on the gun earlier this year and is generally around 67 or 68.
On Tuesday, she struck out 10 and walked one, allowing just three base runners. MaKayla Augustine walked in the first, Jenna Bork singled sharply to left in the third and Krissy Neumann reached on an error in the fourth, but was wiped out on a 4-6-3 double play.
“I pitched a lot of curveballs,” Lowary said. “That got them off track, kind of. Today they were kind of dropping, and it was working a lot better.”
Vlaanderen said his team's goal was to strike out nine times or less.
“I can't take anything away from our kids, because I thought we got good hacks at the plate,” he said.
After hitting eight home runs as a freshman, Lowary entered Tuesday with just two home runs on the season. She led off the second with a towering blast over the bleachers beyond the fence in right-center.
An inning later, she came up with a runner on first and one out. She deposited a Larissa Uhl offering over the right-field fence for a 3-0 Fillies lead. She became the 16th girl in Iowa history to have a two-homer game.
Lowary didn't get a chance to become the first to hit three. The Crusaders intentionally walked her in the fifth and she was on deck when the game ended.
“I really wanted to” get one more shot, Lowary said, adding that the win was the most important thing.
Heelan plays a pair of consolation games Wednesday, beginning with a noon game against Carlisle (32-9), the team that beat Heelan in last year's quarters.
“That's maybe some incentive for our kids,” Vlaanderen said.
Dallas Center-Grimes (34-5)....................012 000 0—3 4 1
Sioux City Heelan (31-7)............................000 000 0—0 1 0
W: Paige Lowary, 30-3. L: Larissa Uhl, 29-4. HR: DCG, Lowary 2 (4).