AC-T wins regional final game to advance to state tournament for first time since 1989
One inning was all Rachel Degner needed.
The Albert City-Truesdale pitcher was locked in a 1-1 duel with North Central of Manly ace Lucy Brown when her teammates struck for six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to pull ahead and go on to win a Class 1A regional final by the score of 9-1 on Tuesday night at Harlan Rogers Park in Fort Dodge.
AC-T, now 31-7 and ranked 17th, advances to the state tournament where it will play top-ranked HLV of Victor (37-3) in the first round on Monday at 5 p.m. at Harlan Rogers Park in Fort Dodge.
The last time AC-T played in the state tournament was 1989. The Hurricanes were defeated by Pocahontas 4-1 in last year's regional final game.
The game was tied at 1-1 in the fifth when April Schuknecht reached on a single. Lori Hogrefe followed with a single, and both runners moved up a base when Hogrefe's hit was misplayed in the outfield.
Degner then hit a ground ball to third, but the third baseman elected to hold the ball rather than throwing to first and risk having the runner on third base score.
With the bases loaded, Alicia Erlandson hit a ground ball to the third baseman. This time she threw home, but the throw was low and got past the catcher, allowing Schuknecht and Hogrefe to score for a 3-1 lead.
Krista Peterson then reached base when the third baseman again held the ball, loading the bases. Karmen Loving delivered a single to score Degner. Shayla Degner followed with a single to score Erlandson.
Alicia Lovin then came up and smacked the ball over the center fielder's head to score Loving and Shayla Degner to give AC-T a 7-1 lead.
Loving added an RBI single in the seventh inning to give the Hurricanes an 8-1 lead before Mollie McCabe closed the scoring with an RBI single.
AC-T scored a run in the third inning when Lovin reached on an error and scored on a throwing error.
Loving had two hits and drove in two runs. Hogrefe also had two hits. Lovin knocked in two runs. AC-T had eight hits.
Degner picked up her 24th victory of the season. She allowed four hits, one earned run, walked three and struck out five.
Degner allowed a double in the fourth inning, but Peterson snared a line drive at second base and turned it into a double play to end the threat.
Degner retired the side in order in the sixth and seventh innings.
North Central was victimized by five errors in the game.
"Our defense was solid and all of the girls contributed offensively," AC-T coach Kim Johnson said. "Rachel pitched another great game. She walked two in the first inning, but then settled down. The only other walk was the intentional walk to Petersburg. Our scout informed us of her dangerous stick and we respected it."
"Before the game, I talked to the girls about how every athlete dreams of making it to the state tournament," Johnson added. "That dream has become a reality. It's an experience the girls will never forget."
Albert City-Truesdale 3
Rachel Degner singled in what proved to be the game-winning run in the sixth inning and tossed a five-hitter on the mound to help send Albert City-Truesdale to a victory over Armstrong-Ringsted in a Class 1A regional semifinal game on Monday night at Albert City.
AC-T scored two runs in the top of the first inning - all with two outs. Alicia Lovin singled and April Schuknecht reached on an error. Alicia Erlandson delivered a single into right field to score Lovin and Schuknecht.
It stayed that way until the bottom of the fifth when the Mustangs scored an unearned run on a throwing error by the Hurricanes.
Armstrong-Ringsted pitcher Stacy Kanander retired the next 14 AC-T batters in a row after a shaky first inning.
AC-T grabbed a 3-1 lead in the sixth when Schuknecht reached on a bunt single, advanced to second on a groundout, and scored on a two-out single by Degner.
Armstrong-Ringsted scored a run in the bottom of the sixth on a safety squeeze bunt to make it a 3-2 game.
Degner retired the side in order in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Degner allowed five hits, one earned run, walked four and struck out three to pick up the win.
AC-T managed just four hits in the game.
"We came up with the big hits to score runs when we needed them," AC-T coach Kim Johnson said. "This was a nail-biter from the beginning to the end and the girls kept their composure throughout. Rachel Degner pitched out of two tough jams in the second and third innings."
Westwood 2, Alta 1
Haley Thorpe's double scored Heather Kerns with what proved to be the game-winning run in the sixth inning to give Westwood a win over Alta in a Class 1A regional quarterfinal game last Saturday at Battle Creek.
Kerns reached base on a fielder's choice and later came in on Thorpe's double. The two teamed up in the second inning to produce Westwood's other run. Kerns singled, advanced to third base on an error, and scored on Thorpe's sacrifice fly.
Alta scored its lone run in the first inning. Ashlea Payne reached base on an error, advanced to second on a single by Casi Flink and moved to third when Greta Lichtenberg was walked. Payne then scored on an infield error.
Brooke Sliefert was saddled with the loss. She pitched despite injuring her hip in pre-game warmups.
Flink, Jamie Snyder and Heidi Meyer each had a hit for the Cyclones, which finished their season 17-20 overall.
"The team played well," Alta coach Megan Cooper said. "We just couldn't get runners to cross the plate. Brooke was unable to throw a lot of her different pitches. We just kind of stuck with fastballs."
"As far as we know, this is the farthest that Alta has made it in tournament play," Cooper added. "The girls should be very proud of themselves. They had a great season and exceeded many expectations placed on them. It was a good way to end the season. Westwood is an excellent team with a great pitcher. We should be very proud of how we played."