Cassie Tjebben pitched like an ace just when the Fort Dodge softball team needed her the most here Wednesday.
The sophomore right-hander fired a two-hitter as the Dodgers salvaged a wind-whipped split with third-ranked (Class 5A) West Des Moines Dowling at Rogers Park.
The Maroons (14-4 overall) took the opener, 3-0, but Fort Dodge (12-4) responded with a 4-1 victory in the nightcap.
Tjebben, the daughter of former Dodger all-state hurler Bo Tjebben, improved to 5-1 on the year by changing speeds and keeping Dowling hitters off-balance. Aided by a 25 mile-per-hour wind blowing in from left field, Tjebben walked only one batter and the defense committed just a single error behind her despite the howling gusts.
''Cassie was outstanding,'' FDSH head coach Andi Adams said. ''She mixed things up and buckled down whenever the challenging moments came along. I'm very proud of her poise and the way she stayed focused, never getting rattled or emotional about what was happening in the game.
''This was a big (split) for us to get confidence-wise, because Dowling is a very talented ballclub that can beat you from anywhere in the lineup 1-9. They'd swept Waukee and had won eight in a row (heading into yesterday's twinbill).''
DOWLING 3, FORT DODGE 0
Dowling 001 020 0 - 3 5 1
Fort Dodge 000 000 0 - 0 2 2
Claudia Farrell (W, 9-2; 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 K) and Meaghan McCarthy; Mallory Kilian (L, 7-2; 7 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K) and Taylor Messerly. 2B-D: Jessica Bastian, Julia Bastian. S-FD: Lani Van Zyl, Becca Sunken, Kilian. D: Farrell.
FORT DODGE 4, DOWLING 1
Dowling 000 010 0 - 1 3 2
Fort Dodge 120 100 x - 4 6 1
Jessica Bastian (L, 5-2; 6 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K) and McCarthy; Cassie Tjebben (W, 5-1; 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) and Messerly. 2B-FD: Maddie Egli. HR-D: Kaila Konz. SB-FD: Lexi Astor. S-FD: Lani Van Zyl, Mallory Kilian, Maddie Bodholdt, Becca Sunken.
The Dodgers, who have prevailed in seven of their last nine, received an RBI double from Mallory Kilian in the first inning before manufacturing two more in the second to back Tjebben. Molly Matthes squeezed home Maddie Egli, and Lexi Astor later delivered a run-scoring single to make it 3-0.
Becca Sunken contributed an RBI single in the fourth.
Tjebben's only glitch was allowing a solo home run with two outs in the fifth. She surrendered just three hits with a pair of strikeouts.
Fort Dodge had its chances in the opener, but never did find a way to break through against Dowling hurler Claudia Farrell (9-2). The Dodgers stranded four runners in scoring position in the first three innings alone.
''When you have opportunities against a team like this, you have to make the most of them,'' Adams said. ''We had them scrambling a few times early, but didn't capitalize. You can't let a pitcher like (Farrell) settle down and get into a rhythm.''
Farrell whiffed 11, including six in the final four frames. Fort Dodge had only one hit after the third inning.
Kilian (7-2) took the loss, allowing five hits and two earned runs.
The Dodgers return to action on Friday and Saturday, hosting the FDSH Invitational at Rogers Park.