116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
FORT DODGE — Not quite perfect. Just virtually perfect.
Jenna Sprague faced the minimum 21 batters, surrendering a lone, harmless second-inning single, and top-ranked Mount Vernon returned to the season’s final day with a 2-0 Class 3A semifinal win over No. 6 Saydel at the state softball tournament Wednesday afternoon at the Rogers Sports Complex.
“Definitely a better day for me,” Sprague said, in comparison to a three-hit effort against Dubuque Wahlert in the first round. “This was just a lot of fun.”
The Mustangs (35-4) advance to the championship game for the second consecutive season. They’ll face No. 2 Davenport Assumption (36-8) for the title at 2:30 Friday afternoon.
Assumption denied the Mustangs in the finals last year. And they watched a rerun of that outcome, a 10-5 come-from-behind Knights win, on the way to the park Wednesday.
“That one slipped away from us,” catcher Kenna Rollinger said. “That burns a fire for us to compete.”
Coach Robin Brand said, “Watching that, it kind of reminds you of your ‘why.’ You have to stay purpose-driven.”
Sprague (25-2) struck out six and walked none. The lone baserunner came when Ryley Pecina singled to lead off the top of the second.
Pecina didn’t stay there long. She tried to steal second, and Rollinger threw her out.
“She’s fast, so I knew I had to be ready,” Rollinger said. “I wanted to do it for the team, do it for Jenna, do it for the seniors.”
Sprague retired the final 16 Eagles. That included a sprint behind the plate to catch a foul pop-up.
“She’s an athlete,” Brand said. “She had a quick first step and said, ‘I got it, I’m taking this.’ That’s senior leadership.”
Sprague said, “I know the team has my back, so I have to put some effort into it, too.”
Mount Vernon’s two-run scoring rally in the bottom of the fourth featured a little of everything.
Maia Bentley was hit by a pitch with one out, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Addison Gookin drew a walk and kept motoring to second without hesitation.
Ashlyn Steen popped out, but Saydel shortstop Dakoda Wright threw to third, off the mark, when there wasn’t a play to be made. Bentley raced home for the go-ahead run.
Another wild pitch moved Gookin to third, and she scored on Rollinger’s single.
Rollinger had both of Mount Vernon’s two hits.
Mount Vernon 2, Saydel 0
Class 3A State Semifinal, at Fort Dodge
Saydel 000 000 0 — 0 1 2
Mount Vernon 000 200 x — 2 2 0
Dakota Lake and Makenzie McKay. Jenna Sprague and Kenna Rollinger. W — Sprague (25-2). L — Lake (30-5).