116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
FORT DODGE — Sydney Kennedy knew what to expect from watching on TV in years past. When Western Dubuque arrived at the state softball tournament Tuesday for the first time since 2008, she knew she’d be a little nervous.
Most importantly, the senior pitcher knew that this Bobcats team could withstand any early jitters.
When the game started with a walk and an error and North Polk scored a pair of runs in the top of the first, it was almost like Western Dubuque knew what came next.
“We have had 10 come-from-behind wins (this season), so it was just pretty normal for us,” Kennedy said.
The second-ranked Bobcats (33-7) responded with five runs in the bottom of the second and held the No. 15 Comets (18-15) off the board for the rest of the game for a 5-2 win in a Class 4A state softball quarterfinal at Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge.
Western Dubuque will make its first state semifinal appearance at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday against either No. 3 Adel ADM or No. 8 Clear Creek Amana.
The Bobcats were unranked to start the season, but started 9-0 and quickly climbed up the rankings with an impressive 24-6 showing in the majority-5A Mississippi Valley Conference.
A trip to Fort Dodge — and a successful one, at that — became realistic.
“I was like, ‘dang, we probably can make it there,’” Kennedy said. “It feels almost impossible because nobody’s ever really made it there. But we were like, ‘we got this. Bring it.’”
After a one-hit bottom of the first that included a pair of strikeouts, Western Dubuque came to the plate with purpose and pickiness in the second.
Meg Besler drew a walk, then Audrey Biermann and Maddie Heiderscheit followed with back-to-back singles for the team’s first run. Biermann scored on an error after a Hallie Wilgenbusch sacrifice bunt and Brynn Walters drove in Heiderscheit with a sac fly to give WD the lead.
Back to the top of the order, Sara Horsfield and Kennedy singled, Abigail Kluesner drew a bases-loaded walk and Maddie Harris brought home the final run with a sac fly to left.
“We definitely just waited for our pitches, found the ones that we were looking for, worked with (the umpire’s) strike zone and stuff like that,” Besler said.
The Bobcats are used to newness, having worked with a new head coach this season in Rex Massey. Adjusting to state tournament pressure was only a matter of time.
“As a team, we’re like best friends,” Kennedy said. “We all get along and all share the love and all want to be there, all want to compete.
“And we all want that title.”