FORT DODGE – Small ball started the Davenport Assumption offense.
Long ball cemented it.
Atlantic couldn’t stop it ... and couldn’t get anything going themselves.
That, in a nutshell, was the story of the Trojans’ Iowa Class 3A state semifinal hopes against the top-ranked Knights and being on the wrong end of a 12-0 four-inning decision Wednesday afternoon at Harlan Rogers Sports Complex.
Unlike Monday’s three-hour, 27-minute marathon against Anamosa in the state quarterfinal game, this one lasted a little more than an hour. Although the Trojans gave it their best shot, Assumption was simply that much better.
“Obviously, you can’t come to the state tournament and make mistakes,” said Trojan coach Terry Hinzmann. “Every team that comes in to the tournament is going to make you pay in those situations and early on in the early part of the innings we made some mental mistakes and physical mistakes and some errors and they put some runs across.
“Not to take anything from Assumption, because they’re as good as advertised and we knew that coming in,” he continued. “They’ve got solid pitching and hitting, and they play good defense. It turns out to be a pretty unique situation for them.”
The small-ball game began the Knights’ big afternoon when Olivia Wardlow and Helen Sons led off with back-to-back bunt hits, using their speed to easily reach base. Eventually, Wardlow came home on a bases-loaded walk, and it was Trojan third baseman Jada Jensen’s bases-loaded snag of a line drive that stopped a really big Knights payday.
The close game didn’t last, as a six-run second inning broke the game open, with Maddie Loken’s double to left making the score 6-0. It appeared Libby Madden was thrown out at second on a steal attempt but the officials ruled the ball was not securely in the glove, and eventually she scored on Lauren Loken’s single to right to make it 7-0.
“We (executed) early, held them to the one run and minimized even coming in down 3-0 (in the second) we thought we could minimize that big inning there but as it turned out that wasn’t the case,” said Hinzmann. “You look on the bright side, we saved some pitches for (pitcher) Olivia (Engler for the third-place game).”
A three-run home run by Syd Roe in the third inning slammed the door shut for the Trojans, and a pair of errors in the fourth plated the final two runs.
The Trojans, meanwhile, were limited to three baserunners on two hits and a walk. That’s how effective Knights’ starter Bella Nigey – a 0.66 ERA coming into the tournament – was. Olivia Engler and Ava Rush had the only hits, both singles, and Alyssa Derby had a one-out walk in the fourth. The Trojans struck out eight times.
Engler, meanwhile, had just two strikeouts against eight hits.
Now, it’s off to the third-place game and one last chance for the Trojans to play together, a 34-6 record in hand. That game will be 1 p.m. on Iowa Central Field against Williamsburg.
“I don’t know if it was better to lose 12-0 or 1-0,” said Hinzmann. “We’ll find that out. I’d venture that ... my point after the game was that the team that can put this game behind them ... comes away with the victory. I look at the senior leadership that we have. We were down three runs late in the game against Anamosa and we battled back, and my guess is we’re going to respond favorably coming into the next game.”