No. 3 Dodgers reach title round before bowing out

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla: Meah McCaleb makes a diving stop at third base on Saturday for Fort Dodge at Rogers Park. For more photos, please visit CU.messengernews.net

The Fort Dodge softball team traded blows with two Ankeny powerhouses on Saturday at Rogers Park, splitting the bill and settling for runner-up honors in their home invitational.

The Dodgers first took down seventh-ranked (Class 5A) Ankeny in dramatic fashion, 5-4 in eight innings, to reach the championship round. No. 5 (5A) Ankeny Centennial then used an explosive sixth inning to pull away from Fort Dodge and capture the title at the end of the night on Diamond 1 by a final of 8-2.

FDSH head coach Andi Adams called it a “phenomenal weekend” in the grand scheme of things, as she saw her Dodgers (16-5 overall) take down a pair of ranked opponents and give the defending 5A title holders all they could handle for most of the contest. Fort Dodge only trailed Centennial 3-2 in the sixth when a three-run triple by Jaguar leadoff hitter Payton Drefke landed fair by inches down the right-field line and broke the game wide open.

“Being able to get to the finals in a tournament like this takes a very high level of play, so our players deserve a ton of credit for the way they performed,” Adams said. “We had some really strong at-bats, and overall, the defense did its job.

“We let a few details slip through the cracks (in the finals), and Centennial did what we typically do to our (opponents) — they’d take an extra base because of a small physical or mental lapse. And that cost us a few times. But that’s what you learn about yourself when you’re going up against some of the best programs 5A has to offer. It makes you better because it forces you to (address) those issues.”

The Dodgers and Hawks went back and forth in the semis, with FDSH finally striking last in the bottom of the eighth. Ankeny erased a 2-0 deficit and held leads of 3-2 and 4-3 late before the Dodgers ultimately prevailed.

Freshman Calliegh Zimmerman delivered a tying double in the last frame, after senior Macy Brown had done the same in the bottom of the seventh. Junior Meah McCaleb then hit a sharp single up the middle to plate Zimmermann and give Fort Dodge the victory.

Zimmermann had three hits and a pair of doubles, with Ellie Doster adding two hits and doubling in a run. Sophomore Maeleena Meyer scored twice and contributed a double of her own.

The two-baggers by Doster and Meyer helped the Dodgers build an early 2-0 lead. Doster drove in a run with hers in the first inning; Meyer’s set up an RBI single from Hope Alstott.

Lucy Porter (11-4) did the rest. The junior hurler worked eight impressive innings, scattering six hits and striking out six. Her only real hiccup was allowing a two-run homer to Madison Meyers in the fifth.

“We followed up an impressive win over (No. 14 Cedar Rapids) Kennedy (10-1 on Friday in the quarterfinals) with another strong game against Ankeny,” Adams said. “Calliegh and Mae had some big hits, Meah came up big at the end and made some clutch plays in the field, and Lucy was dominant for the most part against a very good offense.”

Porter threw 128 pitches, leaving eighth-grader Aubrey Alstott and junior Katie Mason in the deep end against a Centennial lineup averaging over seven runs per game and batting .356 as a squad. Mason — making just her third varsity appearance — worked nearly three full innings of effective relief before Drefke’s line-drive triple with the bases loaded in the sixth.

Alstott (5-1) suffered her first loss.

“Katie did a great job keeping us in it,” Adams said. “It’s a tall order for both Aubrey and Katie to try and hold down an offense like that, but we were sitting at 3-2 in the sixth. I’ll take that all day long.

“We made some big defensive plays behind them. Macy threw out a runner at home and made an incredible diving catch (in right field). With that being said, we also allowed them to advance from first to second or second to third a few times (on plays in the outfield) when we shouldn’t have.”

Sophomore Teryn Rippentrop and Meyer both drove in runs. Senior Mackenzie McIlrath had two hits for Fort Dodge, including a double. McCaleb tripled.

The Jaguars (19-4) recorded 14 hits, including six that went for extra bases. Sophomore star Jordyn Kennedy had three hits, while classmate Mady Ott homered.

Drefke was 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Addie Starr contributed three hits as well.

Kennedy, Ott, Drefke and Starr were standouts on Centennial’s state title squad a year ago. The Jaguars have six starters back from that team.

Cora Boyle (11-0) earned the victory for Centennial, which has now won 10 straight.

“I can’t thank the grounds crew at Rogers Park enough,” Adams said. “It’s a long, demanding weekend for them. Ryan Zeka and the staff do an outstanding job. I also greatly appreciate (FDSH activities director) Brandon Ruffridge and (assistant) Ryan O’Leary so much, as well as my entire coaching staff all the way down through the middle school and (athletic trainer) Bre (Drees).

“Joe Havenhill also gets an incredible crew of umpires organized for us here. It takes a lot of moving parts behind the scenes to pull off a tournament of this caliber.”

Fort Dodge returns to action on Monday at home against Mason City. First pitch in the varsity doubleheader is set for 5 p.m. back at Rogers Park.


Ankeny 000 020 11 – 4 5 3

Fort Dodge 110 000 12 – 5 10 1

WP–Lucy Porter (11-4; 8 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K); LP–Abby Rusher (7-3; 7.1 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K). 2B–FD: Calliegh Zimmermann 2, Maeleena Meyer, Ellie Doster; A: Grace Rood. HR–A: Madison Meyers. SB–FD: Hope Alstott; A: Avery Nelson.


Fort Dodge 000 011 0 – 2 7 0

Centennial 012 005 x – 8 14 0

WP–Cora Boyle (11-0; 7 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K); LP–Aubrey Alstott (5-1; 3.1 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 0 K). 2B–FD: Mackenzie McIlrath; AC: Payton Drefke, Addie Starr, Jordyn Kennedy, Mary Brantley. 3B–FD: Meah McCaleb; AC: Payton Drefke. HR–AC: Mady Ott. SB–FD: Maeleena Meyer, Hope Alstott.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today