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BACK ON TRACK

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Maddisen Hoshaw of Fort Dodge slides around Estherville Lincoln Central on Tuesday at Rogers Park

The postgame scene at Rogers Park may have been confusing to a casual observer on Tuesday.

Minutes after the third-ranked (Class 4A) Fort Dodge softball team put the finishing touches on their 5-0 victory over No. 5 (3A) Estherville-Lincoln Central, every Dodger player lined up to run “home to homes” — traditionally a program punishment for mistakes made or errors accrued.

After multiple trips around the bases, many of the athletes turned their attention to fielding extra grounders and catching fly balls as coaches helped them get in extra work.

Head coach Andi Adams’s squad was good enough to defeat E-LC (15-3 overall), using timely hitting, aggressive baserunning, solid pitching and consistent defense to prevail by a comfortable margin. What happened afterward was more about making amends for the past and solidifying the future than what happened in the present.

“We did what we needed to do and got that bad taste out of our mouth from the night before (a doubleheader loss to conference rival Ames),” Adams said. “We were in a position to get either a split or a sweep, and we didn’t take care of the little things. Our defense let us down. And anyone can tell you that, in this program, that is not an option.

“Estherville is a really good ballclub. Coach (Megan) Anderson does a great job. She wanted this game and to play (up a class against a rated opponent) for the same reason we still want to face the Waukees, Valleys and Johnstons of the world. You keep challenging your kids, even if it may not necessarily result (in a win). I respect that. There’s a reason they’re (75-16 the last three seasons). But Coach Anderson will also tell you that you can never stop improving. So what you’re seeing (both the extra running and field work afterward) is something we still need, regardless of what happened (Tuesday).”

Fort Dodge (13-4) plated four runs in the fifth inning to break open a one-run ballgame. Three Dodger hits and four E-LC errors took a close contest and tipped it in the home team’s favor for good.

Freshman catcher Ellie Doster had two hits, with courtesy runner Maddie Hoshaw scoring twice. Classmate Calliegh Zimmermann was 3-for-3 with a pair of stolen bases, and Hope Alstott — another freshman — reached base three times.

Junior Lucy Porter (9-4) quickly erased the frustrating Ames experience, surrendering four hits and six innings of work. Eighth-grader Aubrey Alstott then completed the shutout.

Porter struck out nine batters, including six in a row during the second and third innings combined.

Fort Dodge finally broke the scoring ice in the fourth, when Hoshaw alertly scampered home following one of Zimmermann’s singles with two outs. Hoshaw originally moved to third, but broke for the plate after a brief hesitation when E-LC players assumed time had been called.

Of the five Dodger runs, only Porter — on a squeeze bunt — and senior Macy Brown — on a sacrifice fly — actually recorded RBI.

“We did a better job of executing both at the plate and defensively,” Adams said. “This is still a young team overall. We had three freshmen and two sophomores in the lineup (last night). We just need to be more consistent. The kids know that…it’s why they’re putting in the extra work. We’ll get there.”

The Dodgers are now off until Friday and Saturday, when they host the annual Fort Dodge Invitational back at Rogers Park. As many as 15 of the 16 schools in the field are expected to be ranked.

FORT DODGE 5, ESTHERVILLE-LC 0

E-LC 000 000 0 — 0 6 4

Fort Dodge 000 140 x — 5 7 0

WP–Lucy Porter (9-4; 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K); LP–Tatum Dunlavy (8-2; 4 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K). 2B–FD: Ellie Doster; E-LC: Kacie Brechwald. SB–FD: Calliegh Zimmermann 2, Maddie Hoshaw, Hope Alstott. S–FD: Lucy Porter; SF–FD: Macy Brown.

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