'Uncharacteristic' outing sees Mount Vernon fall to BHRV in state softball quarterfinals

Mustangs rallied in last two regional games, could not mount one Wednesday

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FORT DODGE — Mount Vernon searched for a word to describe its game. One fit better than almost any other.

Uncharacteristic.

No. 5 Mount Vernon fell behind No. 11 Boyden Hull/Rock Valley early in the first and was never able to pose a true threat in a 7-1 loss in the Class 3A quarterfinals at the state softball tournament. The Mustangs (29-14) play at noon Thursday in the consolation bracket.

“It was hard, we had some uncharacteristic errors on defense,” coach Robin Brand said. “A lot of times our defense can keep us in it — which we’ve said this before — until our offense can win it. It didn’t happen tonight for that reason.”

Mount Vernon didn’t record its first hit until the fourth inning after it had already fallen behind 3-0 after two. The Nighthawks (26-7) jumped ahead in the first after pitcher Kaitlyn Van Der Zwaag connected on a deep two-run home run to center field.

The Mustangs fell behind 3-0 in each of their last two district games before rallying to win, so Brand and the players in the dugout weren’t panicking early.

“Honestly in that first inning, she hit that home run and we’re like, ‘It’s happened in the past two games and we’ve come back,’” said first baseman Maggie Babcock, who was 2-for-2 and reached base on balls. “There was still a lot of game left and anything is possible. Anything can happen.”

Van Der Zwaag recorded seven strikeouts and didn’t allow a run until the sixth inning and five hits on the night. Senior pitcher Lily Dahlstrom recorded three strikeouts in a complete game, but the Mustangs were victim to three errors and 12 BHRV hits.

“I can’t put my finger on it. Something was just off today,” Dahlstrom said. “We played different. It was completely a team thing. It wasn’t one person at all. It wasn’t anybody in particular. We just didn’t have it to beat them today.”

No player besides Babcock recorded more than one hit, but shortstop Libby Ryan reached base three times on walks — including a hit by pitch.

Brand gathered her team in a huddle away from the field in the minutes after the game and spoke about changing priorities. A run at a championship is gone, but two wins would give Mount Vernon a chance to repeat its fifth-place 3A finish from a year ago.

“(Thursday) is when we need to come back,” Dahlstrom said. “(Thursday) is when we need to show we can do this on a day that really matters. It’s the last day and we need to fight to play the best we can.”

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