Kenzie Ihle's walk-off game-winning RBI double in the bottom of the seventh helped lift the Ballard Bombers to a 1-0 triumph over No. 3 Bondurant-Farrar in a Class 3A state softball semifinal Thursday afternoon at Rogers Sports Complex.
The Bombers (34-9) will play for a state softball championship for the first time in school history as they face Solon (38-6) in the Class 3A state title game at 2;30 p.m. today on Diamond 1.
"I was so anxious for the run to score so we could end the game on a winning note," said Ihle of her game-winning hit that plated courtesy runner Elvis Calvert.
With the score tied at 0-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh, Ballard's Katie Ahrenholtz reached on an error to start the inning. Calvert entered as a courtesy runner for Ahrenholtz and was sacrificed to second base by Alex Petersen.
Ihle then hammered a double to right field for the winning run.
"Our goals are the same that we've had from the very start," said Ballard head coach Staci Sniezek on her team's state tournament run to the 3A championship game. "We took a trip here to Fort Dodge to scrimmage Andi Adams and her squad on May 11. And we wanted to get back to this point, and here we are. That is so satisfying as a coach to watch the girls go through that.
B-F 000 000 0 - 0 5 3
Ballard 000 000 1 - 1 2 0
Cailey Schlenker (L: 23-7, 6.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 K) and Erin Sawtzky; Kenzie Ihle (W:23-6, 7.0 IP, 5 H, 5 K). LOB-B-F: 5; Ballard 3. 2B-B-F: Bobbie Jo Burrows. Sacrifes-B: Alex Petersen, Brooke Mallon.
"They came up here, they felt their dream in their hearts and now they are actually living it out there in real life. That is something they will take with them for the rest of their lives. This is a great experience for our whole community, all our fans, the parents, everyone.it's bigger than just this team, it's for the community as well."
On the mound, Ihle picked up the win to improve to 23-6 on the season as she allowed only five hits while striking out five Lady Jays.
Bondurant-Farrar's best offensive chance came in the top of the fifth.
With one out, Emily Wilson singled to short and advanced to third base on teammate Keely Bycroft's single to left field as Bycroft reached second on a throw to third base by Ballard leftfielder Sydney Fisher.
"They got the timely hits and we didn't get the timely hits," said Lady Jay head coach Roger Roland. "We stranded some runners on bases. One time we had runners on second and third and we had a line drive right to their third baseman, so it goes one way or another like that.
"We hope we could've scored one or two runs, but a lot of softball games are determined that way - it's just needing the timely hit."
In the top of the seventh, two more Lady Jays reached base with two outs as Bycroft, who led the Lady Jays with a pair of hits, and Sawatzky had back-to-back singles, but Ihle got Norton to ground out to shortstop to end the threat.
Bondurant-Farrar (36-8) takes on ELC in the Class 3A third-place game at 1:30 p.m. on Diamond 2.