CLARKSVILLE — Two years ago, the Clarksville softball team made it all the way to the Class 1A state title game.
Last year, the Indians were one game short of a return trip to Fort Dodge. Now, they’re at that same point in the season.
Kori Wedeking sat down 12 Turkey Valley batters, while Emma Poppe broke through with an RBI single in the second. Cheyenne Behrends each added run-scoring knocks in the fifth to help the Tribe to a 4-0 victory Friday at Volunteer Park over the Trojans and move on to the Class 1A Region 7 final on Monday against Starmont.
Head coach Katie Wedeking said her squad knew that Friday’s contest would be tougher than the one on Wednesday night, a 12-0, four-inning victory over Central Elkader.
“The starting pitcher (Kim Fischer) had a 6-1 record, so we really didn’t know what to think about her,” Katie Wedeking said. “We were slow on the bats, but as soon as we opened it up, we finally settled down and got back to our normal selves.”
Kori Wedeking said her arsenal in the circle has been working well for her in the last few games. Her one-hit, one-walk performance on Friday came on the heels of a perfect outing over four frames on Wednesday.
“I felt pretty confident going in, and then our defense has been pretty strong,” Kori Wedeking said. “We felt good.
“They were really going after the rise ball, and it was working good tonight, so that definitely helped a lot.”
Katie Wedeking agreed about the Trojans going after that pitch.
“We just adapted to the way their hitting was,” she said. “They do have quite a few good hitters, so we just tried to work the corners and throw that rise ball.”
The Indian (30-1) pitcher seemed to pick right back up where she left off in the quarterfinal, retiring the first two Trojan (18-16) batters with ease. Kori Wedeking struck out Jaedyn Winter swinging, and Jordan Lukes grounded out to Poppe.
However, Shayla Kuennen ended the second bid at perfection two pitches later. She belted an 0-1 offering over center fielder Bailey Meyers for a double, but was stranded there when Kara Parks struck out to end the inning.
Clarksville went quiet in the bottom half of the frame, as did Turkey Valley in the top of the second. With one down in the bottom of that frame, Ainsley Lovrien hit a shot into center for a base hit. After Sierra Vance came on to courtesy run for the Indian catcher, Cailyn Hardy kept the line moving with a single to left.
As if she was invoking her older sister’s current top-20 single, Poppe then made TV shortstop Kara Parks miss her grounder that found its way into the outfield to bring home Vance to break the ice. The Clarksville rally then ended when Chloe Ross grounded into a double play to third.
Kori Wedeking kept the defensive momentum going by retiring the Trojans in order each of the next three innings. Then her teammates gave her some insurance in the bottom of the fifth.
With one out, Ross singled and Myers doubled to put runners on second and third. Behrends then brought in Ross with a single to shallow left that chased Fischer with the score 2-0.
After Josie Weber came into the circle from her second-base position, her 1-1 offering to Bloker was smacked into right field to plate both Myers and Behrends for the 4-0 advantage.
That was all Kori Wedeking needed. She only allowed one more baserunner, a walk to Winter, in the sixth and then struck out the side in the seventh to seal the victory.
Katie Wedeking thinks that her Indians are playing some of their best softball right now.
“I think the ones that need to be good right now are stepping up and being good,” she said. “The bottom half of our lineup tonight started all of the hitting and scoring for us.”
Kori Wedeking said her teammates were nervous throughout.
“It was only a 1-0 lead, but after the three-run inning, we definitely had a lot more confidence,” she said.
Monday’s game will be at Volunteer Park at 7 p.m. Starmont (17-21) had downed Dunkerton (4-21) before upsetting Janesville (15-11) in New Hampton. The Stars then took out Edgewood-Colesburg (23-16) by a 5-4 final on Friday at home.
Katie Wedeking reminded her team of how the Indians’ bats kept them from returning to the state tournament a year ago.
“We just weren’t patient, always hitting right to someone or a pop fly,” she said. “I just told them someone’s gotta break it open, hit those gaps and hit those powerful low line drives.”
Kori Wedeking agreed that what happened last year has motivated the Tribe this year.
“How bad it hurts to not make it to state after you did already,” she said. “I think we’re going to go back stronger than we ever have been.”