Rising to the occasion, the Fort Dodge softball team passed its first postseason test with flying colors here Saturday night.
In a Class 5A, Region 1 semifinal, the Dodgers (26-15 overall) rolled to a 12-0 four-inning shutout over Sioux City East at Rogers Sports Complex.
FDSH, which played errorless softball, collected 14 hits and seven stolen bases in the game. The Dodgers plated four runs in the first, six in the second and two more insurance scores in the fourth.
"When this team is on fire, that's what happens," Fort Dodge head coach Andi Adams said. "Our pitching, hitting, defense and baserunning were all excellent (last night).
"You aren't going to win or lose on the flip of a coin, but we chose to be visitors, because I feel it makes you more comfortable if you can score first and put some pressure on the other team, which is what we were able to do."
The Dodgers now advance to face defending state champion Ankeny (31-10) in a 5A, Region 1 final on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Ankeny. Last summer, Fort Dodge was ousted by the Hawkettes just one step short of a state bid. FDSH was also swept by Ankeny in their previous meeting this season.
FORT DODGE 12, SIOUX CITY EAST 0 (4 Inn.)
Fort Dodge 460 2-12 14 0
Sioux City East 000 0-0 3 2
Rylie Zyzda (L, 5-14; 1 2/3 IP, 8 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 2 BB, 0 K), Allison Lester (2 1/3 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K) and Sarah Sponder; Mallory Kilian (W, 16-6; 4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) and Taylor Messerly.
2B-FD: Riley Hartman. HR-FD: Kilian. SB-FD: Lexi Astor (2), Lani Van Zyl, Kilian, Maddie Egli, Madi Bennett, Hartman. MH-FD: Kilian (3), Astor (2), Egli (2), Bennett (2), Messerly (2). RBI-FD: Kilian (4), Egli (2), Messerly (2), Bennett, Hartman. LOB-FD: 5, SCE 4.
"We feel blessed we're still playing and will do everything in our power to get back (to Rogers Sports Complex) and be one of the final eight teams (at the state tournament)," said Adams. "Ankeny is a traditional powerhouse that is very well-coached. They finished second two years ago (in 4A) and last year won (the 5A title). We respect their program a lot, but we're starting to peak at the right time and are playing very good softball at this point. All we can do is control the controllable."
Sophomore hurler and No. 3 batter Mallory Kilian helped her own cause offensively Saturday with a perfect 3-for-3 effort, including a longball, four RBI, a run scored and a stolen base. She blasted her seventh roundtripper of the year - a three-run shot to left field - in the second. Kilian (16-6) also went the distance in her fourth shutout of the season, allowing just three hits with one walk and two strikeouts.
"Mallory's in a zone right now," said Adams. "She's just an athlete that's really stepping up for us in a big way."
Lexi Astor, Maddie Egli, Madi Bennett and Taylor Messerly all delivered a pair of hits for the Dodgers, who earlier downed the Black Raiders by an 8-2 count in the FDSH Invitational back on June 14. Astor, Lani Van Zyl, Egli, Bennett and Riley Hartman each crossed the dish twice, while Egli and Messerly both drove in a pair. Astor swiped two bags as well.
Madi Jensen, Allison Lester and Katy Miller all managed singles for East (15-24), which stranded three of its four baserunners in scoring position.