116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MOUNT VERNON — No. 2 Mount Vernon was all business in Monday night’s Class 3A regional softball final.
That was not good news for Hampton-Dumont/CAL.
The Mustang offense rapped out 11 hits and junior right-hander Jenna Sprague tossed a perfect game as Mount Vernon earned its sixth state trip in the past seven seasons with a 12-0, four-inning victory at the Van Metre Family Softball Field.
Mount Vernon (34-4) will play in next week’s state tournament against an opponent to be determined after the completion of the other 3A regional final contests.
Hampton-Dumont/CAL ends its season at 15-9.
After Sprague mowed down the Bulldogs in the top of the first, Mount Vernon needed to see three pitches from Avery Hanson to grab a 2-0 lead. Nadia Telecky hammered the first pitch to the fence in right-center field for a triple. Two pitches later, Maia Bentley drove a liner over the right-field fence for her ninth homer of the year.
“We walked in here tonight thinking we could either dominate or it would be a dogfight,” Coach Robin Brand said. “The way you enter a game determines the way it could go and they came out ready to go right away. They came out and did everything they needed to do for each other.”
The two runs would have been more than enough for Sprague. She struck out eight of the 12 batters she faced with only one ball leaving the infield.
“I felt really good when I was warming up tonight,” she said. “We were not going to underestimate them. We didn’t look at the record, we just went out and played.”
After going down in order against Hanson in the second, the Mustangs removed any doubt with a seven-run third inning. The big blow in the inning was a bases-clearing triple from Ashlyn Steen.
“It is much easier to pitch when the offense is going like it did tonight,” Sprague said. “When they get two runs on three pitches like they did to start, that definitely helps put me at ease.”
Five of Mount Vernon’s 11 hits were for extra bases, including a triple from No. 9 hitter Lily See that drove in Addison Gookin with the game-ending run in the bottom of the fourth.
Both Brand and Sprague believe Mount Vernon can claim a state title next week in Fort Dodge.
“This group, the sky’s the limit for them,” Brand said. “They play so well together and they are so coachable. When you have a team like that, you like your chances in a state tournament.”
Sprague has seen several recent Mustang teams fall short of a title.
“I think that this year could be our year,” she said. “Last year was good, but this year, I really believe we can be better this time.”