NEVER SAY NEVER

No. 10 Dodgers rally with four runs in bottom of 7th to win tourney crown

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla The Fort Dodge softball team celebrates after scoring four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to beat Ankeny and win the Fort Dodge Invitational title at Rogers Park on Saturday. For more photos, visit CU at messengernews.net

Through the years, some of Andi Adams’ best Fort Dodge softball teams have possessed an ”it” factor that can’t be explained as much as it can be felt.

Whatever intangible best describes the driving force behind the 2018 Dodgers — heart, tenacity, guts, chemistry or a combination of all four — Adams knows she has it with this group. And the 18-year veteran head coach is along for the ride like everyone else.

No. 10 (Class 5A) Fort Dodge arose from the depths of defeat with four seventh-inning runs in the championship round of the FDSH Invitational here Saturday, somehow pulling out a 10-9 victory over 11th-ranked Ankeny with a rally that both defied logic and defined this team in one perfect confluence.

”Any coach who thinks he or she is the reason for something like this,” Adams said, pointing to her players during the medal ceremony, ”is fooling themselves. This is about them. Where they were raised. Where they come from. What they’ve been told they can’t do.

”It’s something I can’t put my finger on, but I’ve never been able to and I just go with it. You mix a bunch of selfless players together and get the perfect combination … I have a front-row seat to this, and I couldn’t be more in love with them or happy to be their coach. So much goes into getting ready for a season, but once it starts, it’s in the players’ hands as far as what kind of team they want to be. You can’t force that out of them. They decide it for themselves.”

The Dodgers improved to 20-4 on the year by taking down defending 4A state champion Winterset (19-7) in the semifinals and then the Hawkettes (17-5), who had won nine in a row before last night. It looked like Ankeny’s streak would reach double digits after the visitors fought back from a 6-3 deficit with six unanswered runs, but FDSH staged its dramatic comeback with a walk, two hits and two costly Hawkette errors.

”We kind of gave it away (with four two-out unearned runs in the fifth and sixth innings), but so much of this sport is how you respond to adversity. You’re never really out of it until you believe you’re out of it, and this group refuses to do that,” Adams said. ”Make a mistake? Get it back. Error? Get it back. Bad at-bat? Get it back. And that’s what they do.

”We put ourselves in position to win it. Then we lost it. But we got it back. And the way they want to fight for each other is so sincere. So real. Again, that’s not something you can ‘coach.’ It’s something they have to be willing to do for each other.”

Adams noted that the two-out rally in the final frame was kept alive by senior Kaden Pederson and freshman Chloe Wertz — players who had been pinch-hit for during their previous respective at-bats. Down 9-6, both Pederson and Wertz delivered RBI singles to set the stage for eighth-grader Tory Bennett.

Bennett fought her way to a 3-2 count, with pinch runners Haley Wills and Martyne Lowrey — again, both eighth graders — reaching second and third. Bennett then hit a hard chopper to the second baseman, who fielded the ball cleanly before double clutching and making an errant toss to first.

Bennett hustled down the line, beat the throw, Wills and Lowrey both scored, and the celebration was on.

”I have to give a ton of credit to both Kaden and Chloe,” Adams said. ”No one likes to get pinch-hit for. And it was more about the situation than their (previous performances). At that point, a player can sulk or lose their focus, or they can continue to support their teammates and get ready for the next opportunity. Both of them did that. We wouldn’t be talking about this win if they hadn’t. And Tory did what Tory does — she found a way.”

Junior lead-off hitter Daphne Alstott had four hits against Ankeny, while classmate Aubrey Davis homered and scored twice. Only four of Fort Dodge’s runs were earned, but the Hawkettes scored just four earned runs of their own.

Senior Bre Tjebben drilled an RBI double off the wall and walked twice, including a base-on-balls that kickstarted the seventh-inning comeback.

The Dodgers, who rank second in all of 5A at 8.4 runs per game, pounded out 11 hits against Ankeny after drilling 18 in the opener versus Winterset. The Huskies, who are currently rated 5th in 4A, led 3-0 early before Fort Dodge reeled off 11 straight runs — including six against all-state hurler Sophie Stover.

Freshman Tristin Doster was 3-for-4 with three runs scored. Sophomore Loghen Schnetzer went 3-for-4 with a homer and a two-run single, and eighth-grader Jalen Adams added three hits as well.

Tjebben, Alstott and Pederson contributed two hits a piece. Tjebben tossed a complete game seven-hitter, allowing only one earned run.

Senior leadoff hitter Peyton Daugherty had four hits, three stolen bases and scored three times for Ankeny. Malea Daugherty doubled and scored twice. Marina Carter homered for the Hawkettes.

”To have 29 hits against two Top-10 teams … I just can’t credit these kids enough,” Adams said. ”And again, it’s not just about what they’re doing now. They put in the work in the offseason with their families so that they could create this opportunity for themselves.

”I have an amazing staff with (assistants) Kenzie Alstott, Sam Edwards, Molly Matthes and Michelle Willett. They do so much to get us ready both physically and mentally behind the scenes, and I really appreciate that. So do the players.

”Their work both before and during this tournament … I’m just so thankful.”

Adams also noted the efforts of Rogers Park superintendent Jim Winter and his crew, who ”do a phenomenal job of getting the fields ready and making this tournament run like a well-oiled machine.”

”It’s 100 degrees (both days) and they’re working a full day from early in the morning until the end of the night,” Adams said. ”All of the workers and volunteers deserve a huge ‘thank you’ from all of us.”

Top-ranked (5A) Cedar Rapids Kennedy, who was edged by Ankeny in the semifinals 5-4 for just its third loss of the season, rebounded to defeat Winterset for third place, 6-0.

Fort Dodge returns to action on Monday, facing Marshalltown at Rogers Park. First varsity pitch in the twinbill is set for 6 p.m.

FORT DODGE 11, WINTERSET 3

Winterset 300 000 0 — 3 7 2

Fort Dodge 160 310 x — 11 18 2

WP–Bre Tjebben (4-1; 7 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K). LP–Sophie Stover (13-4; 1.2 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 2 K). 2B–FD: Daphne Alstott. HR–FD: Loghen Schnetzer. SB–FD: Tristin Doster, Daphne Alstott, Kaden Pederson.

FORT DODGE 10, ANKENY 9

Ankeny 110 122 2 — 9 13 4

Fort Dodge 230 100 4 — 10 11 3

WP–Jalen Adams (8-2; 5 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K). LP–Kennedy Thomas (0.2 IP, 4 R, 2 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K). 2B–FD: Bre Tjebben; A: Malea Daugherty 2, Zoe Baker. HR–FD: Aubrey Davis; A: Marina Carter.

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