No. 2 Valley blanks Prairie, 5-0

State softball: Too many errors, not enough offense as Hawks slide into consy bracket

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FORT DODGE — This was the same team that knocked off the top-ranked squad to get here.

Only different.

“I don’t think we were ready. We came here with the wrong approach,” Cedar Rapids Prairie’s Amanda Pipolo said after the Hawks were blanked, 5-0, by No. 2 West Des Moines Valley in a Class 5A quarterfinal at the state softball tournament Monday afternoon at the Rogers Sports Complex.

“We were satisfied to be here. You didn’t see the same fight in our team that you saw (in a regional-final win over No. 1 Cedar Rapids Kennedy).”

Or, in the words of Prairie Coach Joe Yegge: “We puckered.”

Valley (40-3) scored three times in the top of the first inning, and junior Mackenzie Ward spun a three-hitter, striking out six.

“We were just trying to go after certain players, certain ways,” said Ward, who improved to 22-1. “It’s so nice when we score early. It’s pretty frequent. It’s easier to pitch that way.”

Valley will face No. 10 Pleasant Valley (35-8) in a semifinal at 7 p.m. Thursday. The Spartans whipped No. 11 Davenport West, 9-0, Monday.

Three-fourths of the 5A semifinal field hails from the Central Iowa Metro League, which is trying to extend its title streak to 14 years.

Prairie’s exit from the winners’ bracket ensured that the Mississippi Valley Conference’s championship drought grows to 18 years. Cedar Rapids Jefferson went back-to-back in 1997 and 1998.

The Hawks (26-15) fell behind immediately, yielding a pair of errors as the first four Valley batters reached — and three scored. That included an RBI single by Jackie Feldt.

Prairie had two opportunities to chew into the 3-0 deficit. The Hawks had two runners aboard with one out in the third inning, but a strikeout and a pickoff killed the threat.

Then, in the fourth, Pipolo singled and Taylor Moenk reached on a error, putting runners at second and third with no outs. But Ward struck out three in a row, and the Hawks didn’t threaten again.

RBI hits by Alex Honnold and Lexi Merritt pushed Valley’s lead to 5-0 in the fifth.

“We were just tense,” Yegge said. “We didn’t play like we did in regionals.

“We made it bigger than it is. It’s softball. You’re going to wake up whether you win or lose. We made it bigger than it was.”

Prairie faces Davenport West (30-13) in a consolation semifinal at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

“We’ve got to get back up and play softball like we can, flying around the field,” Yegge said.


Class 5A State Quarterfinal, at Fort Dodge

WDM Valley 300 020 0 — 5 6 1

C.R. Prairie 000 000 0 — 0 3 4

Mackenzie Ward and Alex Honnold. Natalie Halvorson, Rylie Kane (6) and Neila Bell. W — Ward (22-1). L — Halvorson (18-9).

l Comments: (319) 368-8857;

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