The fourth-ranked Mustangs ran roughshod over Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn in their Class 1A Regional final in Storm Lake Monday night, pounding out 16 hits in a 14-1 win over the Eagles that clinched their sixth appearance in Fort Dodge in the last eight seasons.
"Hats off to Marcus, they're a fantastic team," said Newell-Fonda head coach Dick Jungers. "I'm just really proud of our girls right now. This time of the year, it's about execution, getting those timely hits. We seemed to get some real nice hits in the holes. The teams that move on usually have that happen for them."
"There's nothing really I can say that explains my excitement right now," said Mustang senior Brooke Hammen.
"It means a lot," said Alyssa Henrich. "We've accomplished our goals of conference champs and going to state. Now we just have to accomplish our goal of winning state."
"It felt pretty awesome, starting the new season this way," said Jenna Falline. "Everybody's better this time of year. You have to come ready to go. I couldn't ask for a better high school career. I wish I had more years with the Mustangs and my coaches. I absolutely love it."
Newell-Fonda will have a week off before the venture over to Harlan Rogers Park, where they will be joined by #6 Don Bosco, #3 Martensdale St. Mary's, #2 Earlham, Charter Oak-Ute, LeMars Gehlen, #8 Mason City Newman and Marquette Catholic.
The Mustangs got off to a slightly rocky start Monday as the 12th-ranked Eagles mounted a two-out rally in the first. After Erica Dreckman and Kayla Theisen both grounded out, Kayla Foresman drew a walk, and Jalyn Doeden followed with a single. Brandi Orr would then reach on a grounder to third as Brianna Wells was unable to make the tag and load up the bases. N-F ace Jenna Falline navigated the Mustangs out of the danger, however, as she induced a groundout and escaped the first still knotted at 0-0.
An error at third allowed Andrea Christensen to leadoff and reach first, and she would advance on a Wells fielder's choice. Hailey Falline then laced a single to give the Mustangs the opening run.
Falline sat the Eagles down in order in the bottom of the second, and the Mustangs would plate another in the top of the third as Henrich slapped down a hit and advanced to second on an overthrow. A Jenna Falline sac bunt moved her over, and Christensen singled her in for the 2-0 lead.
M-M-C mustered just one single in the bottom of the inning, and Newell-Fonda went right back to work. Wells would reach on a single, but she rolled her ankle on the bag, ending her night.
"She's a tough, hard-nosed farm girl," said Jungers. " The good thing about winning tonight is you get a week if there is an injury. We just hope Brianna's ok."
Jordan Wilken stepped in and moved over on a sacrifice bunt. After Missy Morenz was hit by a pitch, Renee Maneman singled in one run, and Henrich would remain hot, lacing an RBI double later in the inning for a 4-0 lead.
Jenna Falline was well into her groove and retired six straight over the fourth and fifth. Morenz would drive in one run in the fifth for the Mustangs, plating Christensen for a 5-0 edge.
Newell-Fonda broke the game open in the sixth as Henrich led off with a triple to right and scored on a Jenna Falline double. Christensen singled and Hess walked to load the bases. Wilken would then reach on an error, and M-M-C's Doeden failed to step on home for the force, and her throw to first sailed wide to score two runs. Hailey Falline then brought home a run with a single for a 9-0 edge.
Newell-Fonda tacked on five more in the seventh as Wilken, Hailey Falline, and Morenz drove in one apiece and Henrich drove in two. The Eagles plated their lone run in the sixth as Allison Meehan drove in Theisen on a fielder's choice.
The Mustangs roughed up M-M-C ace Kayla Foresman for a season-high in runs as she dropped to 18-8 on the year. She entered the night with a 0.84 earned run average.
"She's a fantastic pitcher," said Jungers. "We just got on some good strikes and executed our game and found some holes in their defense."
The Eagles were hampered by seven errors on the night and see their season come to an end with a record of 19-9.
Falline got the win on the mound for Newell-Fonda as she gave up just three hits on the night. She finished with one strikeout, but kept the ball on the ground in the infield all night, letting her defense take care of the work behind.
"The strike zone was a bit tight," said Jungers. "She (Jenna) did a great job of working around that. She pitched a great game, and our defense played great behind her."
Henrich led the Newell-Fonda bats with a 5-for-6 night at the plate with two runs scored and three driven in.
The 1A field features five teams ranked eighth or higher, with a noticeably absent, top-ranked Akron-Westfield, who fell to Gehlen. Second-ranked Earlham returns after ending the Mustangs' season in the 1A title game three years ago and in a Regional Final last year.
"That was tough. We played very well that night," said Jungers. "That just made our girls that much more hungry for this post season. Each game we just seemed to be a little bit sharper."
"That really made us want it more this year," said Henrich. "Just thinking about how we could have been there and weren't and were so close. We just came with even more fire this year. Each one of us came and brought it today. Marcus is a really good ball club. We just came with a lot more energy and did what it takes to win."
The Mustangs' first-round opponent Monday will be Charter Oak-Ute (27-10) at 11:30AM on Diamond 2. Martensdale St. Mary's (38-2) and LeMars Gehlen (24-10) square off opposite with the winners meeting Thursday at 11AM and the losers Wednesday at 10AM.