Algona softball ready to continue impressive run

ALGONA — Jackie Fonley and the Algona softball team have taken on a simple motto that has led them to the state tournament.

“Why not?” said Fonley, the head coach of the Bulldogs. “It’s been our little saying this year, and it’s led us to some really great memories for the girls and something they will never forget.

“It’s been a special season.”

Algona (17-10 overall) will take on top-ranked (Class 3A) and defending two-time state champion Davenport Assumption Monday night at Rogers Park in the quarterfinals at 7 p.m. on Diamond 1.

The road to Fort Dodge has been a memorable one for the Bulldogs and Fonley, as they upset No. 3 Humboldt in the third meeting between North Central Conference rivals in the regional semifinals. With the school’s first-ever state bid hanging in the balance, Algona went to Spirit Lake, waited out a brief rain delay and earned a convincing 8-3 victory.

“We went to Humboldt really feeling like we had nothing to lose,” Fonley said. “And after that, we felt like why should we stop here? We just kept it going, executed well and the girls played without a lot of nerves.

“This is really something that all the players, coaches and parents will be able to look back at and be proud of. These are the memories you are going to remember, not the scores of games but the experiences.”

Fonley won a state basketball title while a junior at Emmetsburg. Her daughter, former Algona standout and current Simpson College pitcher Brooke Fonley, is her assistant.

“This season has been so fun to be part of,” Brooke Fonley said. “I played with some of them throughout my high school career and I umpired for the eighth and ninth graders when they played middle school ball. They have all improved so much and taken on different roles, and they have surpassed the expectations of everyone from the beginning of the season.

“They’re all out there having fun and being great teammates, and that’s what the Algona softball program is all about. I’m so happy I’ve gotten to continue to be part of it.”

Kam Etherington, a junior, leads the way for the Bulldogs. She is hitting .405 with 26 RBI, six homers and nine doubles, going 13-8 inside the circle with 203 strikeouts in 144 innings.

Nicole Smidt, one of just three seniors on the team, has 19 RBI and eight doubles, with eighth-grader Lillian Etherington adding 16 RBI and 28 hits.

“We lost nine seniors from last year and half of our girls were playing either middle school or freshman ball a season ago,” Jackie Fonley said. “We knew going in it would take time for them to adjust to the speed of the game at the varsity level. We just wanted them to come together at the postseason and that’s what they have done.”