Benton returns to the 3A state softball final

Bats come alive late; Fiser perfect for 5 2/3 innings

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FORT DODGE — It took the Benton Bobcats twice through the order to figure out Kaitlyn Van Der Zwaag.

But for Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley, Amber Fiser was a puzzle that went unsolved.

Fiser retired the first 17 batters she faced, then settled for a one-hitter as No. 1 Benton Community downed No. 11 BHRV, 4-1, in a Class 3A semifinal at the state softball tournament Thursday afternoon at the Rogers Sports Complex.

“I kind of had an idea (I had a perfect game going),” Fiser said. “It got taken away, but no big deal.”

The Bobcats (42-2) return to the 3A final for the second consecutive year; they’ll face No. 2 Davenport Assumption (41-4) for the title at 10:10 a.m. (IPTV).

“It’s an awesome feeling to get back,” Jessica Heilman said. “We’ve worked all year for this.”

Benton dropped a 3-1 verdict to Solon in last year’s championship game.

“It’s a big deal to all of us to get another shot,” Fiser said. “This time, we want to bring home the gold.”

The Bobcats won their 25th consecutive game. They’re facing an Assumption outfit riding a 26-game win streak.

Fiser pitched a 16-strikeout no-hitter in the first round Wednesday. She may have been better Thursday, making a 5 2/3-inning bid to become the first to throw a seven-inning perfect game at state since 2006.

“My follow-through was better today,” she said, referring to her four walks Wednesday. “Hopefully, I’ve fixed it.”

Fiser’s bid for perfection ended when BHRV No. 9 hitter Alexis Mousel coaxed a two-out walk in the sixth. Sammy Blum led off the seventh with a single, then eventually scored on a ground out.

By then, though, the Bobcats were pretty safe, thanks to a three-run rally in the top of the fifth.

It started with two outs, as the Bobcats started their third trip through their batting order.

Alyssa Wiebel singled, then scored on Angie Gorkow’s double to the fence. Fiser doubled home Gorkow, then Jaicee Lyons sent home courtesy runner Jessie Havlik with a single.

“We’d never seen this team before, and (Van Der Zwaag) was kind of jamming us, and the hits weren’t going into the gaps,” Gorkow said. “Then we finally got it started with two outs (in the fifth). We stayed upbeat, and didn’t get down on ourselves.”

Four straight hits, and it was 3-0. And the way Fiser was operating, that was plenty.

The Bobcats tacked one on in the seventh anyway. Shelby Hulsebus singled with one out, stole second, then scored on Heilman’s double. Benton finished with 10 hits, eight in the last three innings.

BENTON COMMUNITY 4, BOYDEN-HULL/ROCK VALLEY 1

Class 3A State Semifinal, at Fort Dodge

Benton Community 000 030 1 — 4 10 1

Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley 000 000 1 — 1 1 1

Amber Fiser and Jaicee Lyons. Kaitlyn VanDerZwaag and Alexis Mousel. W — Fiser (27-2). L — VanDerZwaag (25-5).

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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