Benton's Amber Fiser no-hits the Midgets

State softball: No. 1 Benton rolls past error-prone ELC, 9-0

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FORT DODGE — For Midgets to become giant-killers, a long list of developments was prerequisite.

A defensive breakdown wasn’t among them.

Top-ranked Benton Community feasted on six errors by Estherville-Lincoln Central, and rolled to a 9-0 Class 3A quarterfinal triumph at the state softball tournament Wednesday night at the Rogers Sports Complex.

“We all contributed, and that’s what it takes to win a state championship,” said pitcher Amber Fiser, who struck out 16 batters (a 3A record in the five-class era) and posted the 53rd no-hitter in state-tournament history.

Benton (41-2) won its 24th consecutive game, a run that has featured 21 shutouts. Last year’s runners-up, the Bobcats advance to the semifinal round to face No. 11 Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley (26-7). The Nighthawks tripped No. 5 Mount Vernon, 5-0, Wednesday.

First pitch is 1:30 Thursday afternoon.

ELC (20-16) battled the Bobcats to a scoreless draw through the first two innings, then committed two errors in the third and three in the fourth. That, sprinkled with a few hits, added up to seven unearned runs.

“It’s always a concern when you don’t score early,” Benton catcher Jaicee Lyons said. “But we’ve been here, and it’s better to have experienced this before.”

Lyons was 3-for-3 with a walk, driving in three runs.

“My mindset was to hit it hard instead of to hit it far,” she said.

Benton Coach Eric Stenberg said, “Jaicee’s a smart kid. She pays attention and makes adjustments. There’s pressure in being the No. 4 hitter, and she handles it well.”

A one-out error opened the gates for Benton in the third, then RBIs by Fiser (double), Lyons (single) and Shelby Hulsebus (triple) staked the Bobcats to a 4-0 lead.

They added four more in the fourth, and errors played a role again. Alyssa Wiebel drove in a run on a sacrifice fly to center (it was dropped), then Fiser and Lyons came through again.

That was more than plenty for Fiser (26-2), who battled some rare control issues. She walked four after allowing just 14 bases on balls before Wednesday.

She didn’t blame the heat.

“I wasn’t following through with my mechanics,” she said. “That’s my fault. I’ll be better tomorrow.”

Fiser and Hulsebus added two hits apiece for the winners.

The Midgets play two consolation games Thursday, starting at noon against Mount Vernon.

BENTON COMMUNITY 9, ESTHERVILLE-LINCOLN CENTRAL 0

Class 3A State Quarterfinal, at Fort Dodge

Estherville-LC 000 000 0 — 0 0 6

Benton Community 004 401 x — 9 7 0

Carson Gjerde, Sydney Swanson (4). Morgan White (5) and Lindsey Jensen. Amber Fiser and Jaicee Lyons. W — Fiser (26-2) . L — Gjerde (13-8).

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

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