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Prep Softball: Double the Fun–3 More Area Teams Headed to State

By Jason Van Arkel, July 11, 2017

If the organizers of the state high school softball tournament decided to have a get-together for teams from southeast Iowa, they would need to reserve one of the largest halls in Fort Dodge. Fairfield, Mount Pleasant and Oskaloosa all punched their tickets Tuesday night for this year’s state tournament, joining fellow area schools Albia, Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont and Sigourney, who made their reservations on Monday. All three of Tuesday night’s area qualifiers won their Class 4A regional finals at home.

#3 Fairfield expected to be tested by the high-powered offense of Des Moines Hoover, but the game turned into a pitchers’ duel. Hoover led 1-0 after three innings, but the Trojans tied it up at one in the fourth. The sixth inning proved to be pivotal. Hoover scratched across a run to take a 2-1 lead, but in the bottom half of the frame, Fairfield responded with three runs to take the lead for good. The 4-2 victory gave the Trojans their third consecutive trip to Fort Dodge.

#5 Oskaloosa faced #7 Burlington for the right to go to state, and the defending 4A champs took an early 1-0 lead with a run in the second inning. Another pitchers’ duel, the score stayed the same until the Grayhounds tied it with a run in the top of the sixth. Like Fairfield, however, Oskaloosa had an answer in the bottom of the sixth, scoring four runs that Burlington simply could not answer. The 5-1 win sends the Indians to Fort Dodge for the third time in four seasons, where they’ll have a chance to defend their title.

#8 Mount Pleasant appeared to be in trouble at home, trailing unranked Cedar Rapids Xavier 3-1 after the fourth inning. The Panthers’ offense came to life in the fifth, however, as Sarah Moffett cracked a three-run double to put Mount Pleasant ahead 4-3. One frame later, Bailey Johnson smacked a three-run triple, giving the Panthers all the offense they needed in a 7-3 victory.

One area team came up short in its bid to qualify for state on Tuesday. In Class 5A, #11 Ottumwa faced the daunting challenge of going on the road to face #1 Waukee. The Bulldogs played well at times, only allowing five hits, but managed just three hits of their own and committing three costly errors in a 4-0 loss. Ottumwa will have to wait another year to return to Fort Dodge for the first time since 2013.

Fairfield, Oskaloosa and Mount Pleasant all received an unexpected boost to their state tournament seeds when top-ranked Benton was upset by #14 Charles City. That result also put the Indians and Panthers on the same diamond next week. Fourth-seeded Oskaloosa will take on fifth-seeded Mount Pleasant Tuesday afternoon at 3:00. Following that game, #2 seed Fairfield plays Charles City, the #7 seed, at 5:00 on Tuesday.