And they’re off

Top-ranked Dallas Center-Grimes pushed all the right buttons in its Class 4A state softball quarterfinal against Le Mars here Monday.

Making their fourth straight appearance on the big stage, the Fillies (39-1 overall) rolled to a 12-2 six-inning victory at Rogers Sports Complex.

Defending state champion DC-G will now face No. 11 Norwalk – an 8-0 winner over West Delaware yesterday -in a 4A semifinal Thursday at 3 p.m. on Diamond 1.

“We prepared for Le Mars the same way we do for everybody,” said DC-G head coach Steve Schlafke, who posted his 1,127th career win. “It was a good game for us. We knew (the Bulldogs) were going to come in and play hard.

“They had a good approach, really battled, and made us play defense.”

No. 2 batter Rachel Lowary, a freshman, went a perfect 3-for-3 with three runs scored, a RBI and a sacrifice bunt for the Fillies, who pushed their winning streak to 20 consecutive games.

Lowary, who just missed the cycle by a triple, blasted a leadoff round-tripper to right-center field in the bottom of the fourth – her first longball of the season and the third of her career.

“It was an amazing feeling to do it at state,” said the center fielder Lowary, who came in hitting .474 on the year. “I was a lot more nervous last year, but I felt more confident (Monday).”

Junior Allison O’Brien collected three hits, four RBI and three runs for Dallas Center-Grimes, while University of Missouri recruit Paige Lowary and Jackie Peyton each added a pair of hits. Peyton also drove in two and crossed the dish twice, while Central College signee Tabitha Taylor notched a pair of RBI.

Taylor Draisey’s walk-off double to the right-center field gap plated O’Brien with the last run of the contest.

“Our bats are so good up and down the lineup,” Rachel Lowary said. “We never overlook anybody we play. You just can’t let that happen.”

Seven of the DC-G hits went for extra bases, including six doubles.

Ace southpaw Paige Lowary (19-1) went the distance in the win, allowing just four hits and two earned runs. Lowary, who came in with a miniscule 0.10 ERA and 244 strikeouts in 136 innings on the season, walked none and fanned six. She retired the side in order in the second and fifth frames.

Senior Madison Heidebrink was 1-for-3 with a double and a run scored for the Bulldogs, who are making their state debut. Sophomore Crystal Eppling, junior Kassidy Rieken and eighth-grader Grace Milbrodt each managed singles.

Rieken and Jessica VanOtterloo both knocked in a run, while pinch runner Chaise Benjamin scored once.

Defensively, Le Mars (21-17) turned a 6-3-5 double play to end the fourth inning. The Bulldogs, who were fresh off a 3-2 regional final upset over second-ranked Fort Dodge, were unable to overcome three errors.

Awaiting Le Mars in the consolation round Wednesday at 10 a.m. on Dodger Field is West Delaware or Norwalk.