116 3rd St SE
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FORT DODGE — Call them mythical Raccoon River Conference champions, if you please.
Class 4A state champions? That’s etched in granite.
Maddie Harris started one scoring rally and capped the other two to lead the second-ranked Western Dubuque Bobcats past No. 5 Boone, 3-1, in the 4A final Friday evening at the Rogers Sports Complex.
“It’s just like batting practice; if you’re going to get one down the middle, you’re going to feel sorry about it,” Harris said.
The Bobcats (35-7) aren’t exactly state-tournament veterans. Their only previous appearance was in 2008. But they struck gold this week, rallying in each of their three victories.
“I know how good the (Mississippi Valley Conference) is. We’re in a pretty good conference ourselves,” Bobcats Coach Rex Massey said.
Massey in his first season with the team.
“He brought us intensity,” pitcher Sydney Kennedy said. “He wanted it so bad, and so did we. It’s fun to play for somebody who brings that kind of energy.”
Kennedy, who limited Boone (28-9) to four hits (none in the final three innings), was the all-tournament captain, and teammates Maddie Heiderscheidt, Sara Horsfield and Audrey Biermann joined her on the honor squad.
“We played together, like we have all season,” she said.
Harris was a curious absence on the all-tournament team. But she was the player of impact Friday.
“All the girls that made the team, they deserve it and I’m happy for them,” Harris said. “We won state, so I’m sure not going to complain.”
As was the case in the first two rounds, the Bobcats fell behind early. And once again, they were unfazed.
Down 1-0, Western Dubuque struck in the bottom of the second. Harris started it by reaching on an error and racing to second. Biermann legged out an infield single with one out, putting runners on the corners, then courtesy runner Isabel Ernzen scored on Heiderscheidt’s sacrifice fly to knot the score.
Harris put the Bobcats in front in the third with a single. Kennedy hit a one-out double, then courtesy runner Erica Ernzen tallied on Harris’ hit.
Horsfield led off the fifth with a single, moved up a base on Abigail Kluesner’s walk and scored on Harris’ double to make it 3-1.
The defensive play of the game came in the sixth.
Boone’s Emma Dighton led off the top of the inning with a base on balls, then eventually made her way to third base.
Victoria Lewis lifted a fly ball to center field. Horsfield caught it and fired it home to Harris for a dazzling double play.
“I took a couple of steps back, then realized the ball was starting to slow down,” Horsfield said. “I tripped over my foot, but I had to catch that ball.”
Then it was a matter of counting down the outs. Kennedy didn’t allow another baserunner.
“I was shaking, for sure,” Horsfield said. “I’m glad I was in the outfield, where nobody could see it.”
Kennedy struck out eight batters and walked two (one intentionally).
WESTERN DUBUQUE 3, BOONE 1
Class 4A State Championship, at Fort Dodge
Boone 100 000 0 -- 1 4 3
Western Dubuque 011 010 x -- 3 6 0
Emma Dighton and Zoey Hightshoe. Sydney Kennedy and Maddie Harris. W -- Kennedy (19-5). L -- Dighton (18-7).