The fourth-ranked Mustangs held a 1-0 lead early in the contest, but the Bobcats would level it in the first and grab a 3-1 lead through five. A Jenna Falline homer leveled the scored at 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth, before Ashley Goslar drove in the deciding run for CO-U.
"I think they just made more plays than us," said Newell-Fonda coach Dick Jungers, who's Mustangs topped CO-U 10-1 earlier in the year. "We threw a couple balls away that allowed runs to score, which is something we don't normally do. A lot of our hits found gloves. We had five or six good hits that happened to fall in gloves, and last time we played them, those found gaps. That's just how this game works sometimes. The hotter team wins and Charter Oak's just playing some good softball right now. Hats off to them. It was a heck of a ball game. I'm proud of our kids for getting us here."
Falline opened strongly, retiring the side in order in the top of the first. Newell-Fonda didn't have much more success, however, in the bottom of the inning as Renee Maneman struck out and Alyssa Henrich popped out. Falline would connect on a single, but pinch runner Jordan Wilken was caught stealing to end the inning.
The Bobcats were sat down in order yet again in the second, including Falline notching a strikeout against CO-U slugger Nicole Dobernecker.
Falline retired her seventh and eighth straight batters to start the third, striking out Ashley Ewoldt and Emily Meadows, but Mariah Meseck followed with a walk and Kendall Corbitt followed with a single to right. Goslar would then reach on an error, scoring Meseck for the 1-1 tie. Dobernecker would strand two two though, as Falline induced the groundout to first.
The bottom of the third would see Maneman single her way aboard and steal her way to third, but Henrich went down swinging to leave her stranded there.
Tarin Clausen opened the fourth with a double for CO-U and advanced to third on a fielder's choice. Ally Mordhorst then knocked a weak one towards the mound, but Falline's throw home went wild and gave the Bobcats a 2-1 lead. The Mustangs would get out of the jam with just one allowed as two straight groundouts followed.
N-F was unable to muster anything in the fourth, and the Bobcats would double their lead in the fifth with another two-out rally. Goslar started things with a single, and Dobernecker received an intentional free pass to first. Clausen then singled to center to drive in Goslar.
The Mustangs would go down in order in the fifth, as did CO-U in the top of the sixth.
After Maneman went down swinging, Henrich laced a single to center. Falline would then level the score as she sent the Katelyn Leisinger offering over the field in straight-away center to level the game at 3-3.
"That's what this team has been about," said Jungers. "People stepping up and making big plays. Jenna absolutely roped that one and tied the game."
"I was just thinking that I had to make contact and ended up getting ahold of one," said Falline.
Newell-Fonda threatened to do more damage in the frame as Hammen reached on an error and Christensen walked her way on. The Bobcats then swapped out pitchers, bringing in Clausen. Jade Hess then reached on a fielder's choice to leave the runners on first and second, before Brianna Wells loaded them up after getting struck by a pitch. Hailey Falline would work a full count with the bases packed, but she went down swinging to end the threat.
"Unfortunately for us, we had the bases loaded and had a chance to get more runs across and weren't able to," said Jungers. "We had a patient hitter in the box. If Hailey gets ahold of one and finds a gap, it's a different ball game. But give their pitcher credit, she got the crucial out and then scored a run on us."
Meseck led off the seventh for the Bobcats as she reached first on a wild threw and took second in the aftermath. A sac fly by Corbitt pushed her to third with one down, and Goslar collected another RBI single for the deciding run. Falline would strike out Dobernecker, and Clausen flied out to end the inning.
Pinch-hitter Jordan Wilken led off the seventh with a bunt but was called out for interference after being struck with the ball on her way down the first base line. Maneman followed and legged out a single to the left side of the infield. The leading base-stealer in Class 1A promptly took second with the Mustangs' leading hitter, Henrich at the plate. Maneman would make a break for third and was ruled out in a tight call. Henrich went down swinging to end the contest.
"Catcher made a great read and throw," said Jungers. "Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to them for making the play."
Falline went all seven innings on the mound in the loss, giving up two earned runs on five hits. She walked two and struck out six as she fell to 24-5 on the season. She was 2-for-2 at the plate, drove in two, scored one and was walked once. Maneman finished 2-for-4, Henrich 1-for-4 with a run scored, and Hammen 1-for-3.
Clausen got the win for the Bobcats, as she allowed just one hit and struck out two in 1 and 2/3rds innings of work. Leisinger went 5 and 1/3rd, allowing three earned on five hits. She walked two and struck out three.
Goslar led the bats, going 2-for-4 with two driven in an one scored. Clausen was 2-for-4 and drove in one.
The Mustangs (34-8) are back in action Wednesday morning at Fort Dodge as they met LeMars Gehlen Catholic (24-11) at 10AM. The Jays fell to Martensdale St. Mary's 6-1. In the other two first round games, Earlham was an 8-0 winner over Marquette Catholic and Don Bosco won 7-6 over Mason City Newman. Win or lose Wednesday, the Mustangs play again at 2PM.
"At the state tournament, you know you're going to be facing top notch teams," said Jungers. "Any loss is to quality competition, but we've got to retool and set new goals. It won't be as fun as the championship bracket, but there are a lot of teams that would love to be in our place right now, being able to play a couple more games in this venue. It's a special experience, and we're going to make the most of it. I also want to thank our fans. They were in full force this Monday morning, and, unfortunately, we didn't score a couple more runs for them. Sure tickled to have such a great following here at Newell-Fonda. We love our fans, and they love our softball. Hopefully we take care of business on Wednesday."
"We've got to come out more prepared, ready to go and play better," said Falline.