Albia will play for 1st title
Albia head coach Larry Achenbach was having a friendly chat with reporters when, out of nowhere, a gang of players carrying a jug of ice water sprinted his way and gave him a wake-up call yesterday evening at the Rogers Sports Complex.
Newly drenched from head to toe, Achenbach could only smile and start to celebrate with his players. That’s what happens when a team reaches the state championship round for the first time in school history.
The ninth-ranked Lady Dees (30-8), who had to take down No. 6 Solon just to reach the state tournament, cranked three solo home runs and never trailed in a 5-2 victory over No. 8-ranked Mount Vernon in a Class 3A semifinal on Diamond 2.
Rylee Leshen, Hannah Isley and Jena Lawrence all went deep in the opening three innings to run Mount Vernon starting pitcher Madi Speed out of the circle. It’s been Albia’s calling card all tournament and season, as it has belted five homers during its stay in Fort Dodge and 32 overall.
“We hit the ball hard and every one of our starters has at least one home run,” Achenbach said. “We rely on the long ball.”
Isley, who was 3 for 3 with two doubles and a RBI to go along with her round-tripper, has been unstoppable in two tournament games. She’s now 6 for 6 with three home runs and four RBI.
“Hannah is seeing the ball really well and she refuses to make an out,” Achenbach said. “The thing with Hannah is she hates to lose and she fights to the very end.”
Isley says the last two outings have made up for what she considered a sub-par season, although she entered state hitting .430.
“My season hasn’t been the best I don’t think,” she said after she ran her season home run total to 11. “I felt like I should be doing better and there’s no better time to do it.”
Isley led off the contest with a double to left-center and scored the opening run when Mt. Vernon outfielders Sydney Hauser and Noell Ossenkop crashed into one another on a two-out fly ball.
Mt. Vernon (29-16) knotted it at 1 on a Bailey Sullivan RBI double to center in the bottom of the first, but then Albia unleashed its power play.
Leshen blasted her second homer of the week to straightaway center in the second to give the Lady Dees a 2-1 edge. Isley led off the third with a line shot over the fence in right- center and, two batters later, Lawrence sent the ball on a ride out to left.
The Mustangs climbed to within 4-2 on a RBI single to right by Sammy Moss in the third. It scored all-state infielder and Drake recruit Libby Ryan, who went 2 for 3 with two runs scored and four stolen bases at the top of the lineup.
“We’re disappointed; we wanted that win obviously, but they did what they needed to do to win,” Ryan, who upped her state-leading stolen base total to 67, said.
Albia added an insurance run in the seventh on a bloop single to left by Makenna Ross that brought Isley to the dish.
Both teams produced seven hits. Moss put together a 2 for 4 night for Mount Vernon.
Speed and Mustangs’ reliever Amanda Roe combined for eight strikeouts. Lawrence went the distance in the circle for the Lady Dees and fanned four.
Albia will play the role of David to top-ranked Davenport Assumption’s Goliath in tonight’s state final at 7:09 p.m. on Buena Vista University Field. But Achenbach says his team won’t roll over against a Knights team that has won 43 consecutive games.
“We played them last year in the regional final … we got beat 4-0 and left 12 runners on base, so we’ve got some positives,” he said. “We know we’re up against the top of the mountain, but we know we can battle with them.”
Mount Vernon will take on WaMac rival and seventh-ranked Center Point-Urbana in the third-place game on Diamond 2 at 5:30 p.m. CPU, a member of the WaMac West Division, knocked off the Mustangs, who reside in the East Division, 10-9 back on June 24.
“We’ve played CPU and we know what they’ve got,” Ryan said. “They’re a great hitting team just like Albia.”
Albia 5, Mt. Vernon 2
Albia 112 000 1–5 7 2
Mt.Vernon 101 000 0–2 7 1
Jena Lawrence and Alex Beard. Madi Speed, Amanda Roe (3) and Bailey Hauser. W — Lawrence. L — Speed. 2B — ALB: Hannah Isley (2); MV: Bailey Sullivan. HR — ALB: Isley, Lawrence, Rylee Leshen. RBI — ALB: Isley, Lawrence, Leshen, Makenna Ross; MV: Sullivan, Sammy Moss.