116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
FORT DODGE — That first run was elusive, for a while.
But once Mount Vernon got a taste of scoring, it became a late feast.
Addison Gookin’s two-run home run in the fourth inning ignited the third-ranked Mustangs, and they went on to win their rubber match with No. 3 Williamsburg, 6-2, on a very big stage, a Class 3A semifinal at the state softball tournament Wednesday afternoon at the Rogers Sports Complex.
“Usually we come out and score first, so this was a little different,” Gookin said. “So we said, ‘Let’s start a fire.’
“Once you do that, everybody starts getting hits. The energy goes up and down the lineup.”
Gookin’s home run gave the Mustangs (36-4) a 2-1 lead, then they went on to score two more runs in the fifth and a pair in the sixth.
Mount Vernon advances to its first softball final in school history; it will face No. 1 Davenport Assumption (39-3) — a 12-0 four-inning victor over Atlantic — at 2:30 Friday afternoon.
“This is our time,” Gookin said. “This is what we’ve worked hard to do.”
The teams split their regular-season doubleheader June 7 at Williamsburg, and this looked like a tossup on paper. But the Mustangs solved Raiders pitcher Peyton Driscoll in the second half of the game.
“They’re a good hitting team, and they did a good job adjusting,” Williamsburg catcher Carly Campbell said.
The Raiders (32-11) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third on Campbell’s RBI single. Mount Vernon’s Jenna Sprague led off the bottom of the fourth with a single, but was still standing at first with two outs when Gookin came to the plate.
“I hadn’t swung at one yet,” said Gookin, who unloaded with a full count. “I was going to swing at it, and it felt really good off the bat.”
It landed over the left-field fence.
“That home run was huge,” Sprague said. “It made a big difference.”
The fun was just beginning for the Mustangs.
Mount Vernon extended the lead to 4-1 with RBI hits by Maia Bentley and Sprague in the fifth.
Last year’s runner-up, Williamsburg got within 4-2 on Elle Ridgeway’s solo homer — her 13th of the season — in the top of the sixth, but the Mustangs answered in the bottom of the inning on Nadia Telecky’s two-run single.
The Mustangs had one hit in the first three innings, seven in the next three.
“They started hitting gaps with their bats,” Ridgeway said. “We didn’t show up like we did (in a 10-0 first-round win over West Liberty on Tuesday). We didn’t hit the top of the ball.”
Williamsburg will face Atlantic (34-6) in the third-place contest at 1 p.m. Friday.
Telecky and Sprague had two hits apiece for the winners. Gookin reached base three times and scored twice.
And now, only an upset of Assumption — and it would probably be a substantial one — stands between the Mustangs and a championship.
“It will take a lot of grit, some good defense, and good hitting,” Sprague said.
MOUNT VERNON 6, WILLIAMSBURG 2
Class 3A State Semifinal, at Fort Dodge
Williamsburg 001 001 0 — 2 6 0
Mount Vernon 000 222 x — 6 8 2
Peyton Driscoll and Carly Campbell. Jenna Sprague and Kenna Rollinger. W — Sprague (27-2). L — Driscoll (18-5). HR — W: Elle Ridgeway (13). MV: Addison Gookin (3).