Prep Softball

Assumption pops Benton in battle of last two 3A state softball champions

Bobcats within 5-4 after five, then Knights end it early with 9 in the sixth

FORT DODGE — Davenport Assumption blew it open late, but to Benton Community Coach Eric Stenberg, the game was lost early.

“I wish we’d have played our ‘A’ game,” Stenberg said after top-ranked, defending-champion Assumption drubbed the Bobcats, 14-4, in a six-inning Class 3A quarterfinal at the state softball tournament Monday night at the Rogers Sports Complex.

“We could have had them on the ropes if we really would have played our game early.”

Instead, Assumption (37-3) scored four unearned runs in the first two innings on its way to a 4-0 lead. Benton (27-15) surged within 5-4 by the end of the fifth, then the bottom dropped out.

Assumption exploded for nine runs in the bottom of the sixth to end the game early.

“The final score doesn’t show what happened,” said Benton’s Shelby Hulsebus, the state’s leading hitter who slapped a pair of singles and pushed her season hits total to 91. “We were right there until the bottom of the sixth.”

Assumption will play No. 4 Humboldt (31-3) in a semifinal at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. The Wildcats blanked No. 7 Atlantic, 3-0.

Monday’s game was a matchup of the last two 3A champions; Benton captured the title in 2016, then the Knights took their turn last year and are favored to do it again.

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Despite a crucial error in each of the first two innings, the Bobcats made it interesting for a while. Grace Martensen’s two-run double cut the Assumption advantage to 4-2 in the third. Benton added a run in the fourth on an error, then Kate Buscher’s RBI groundout in the fifth brought the Bobcats within 5-4.

State softball brackets

Forty Iowa high school softball teams will make their way to Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge next week for the 2018 state tournament.

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Assumption pitcher Alli Timmons was summoned in relief, and she got the Knights out of trouble. She struck out Jessie Havlik to end the fifth, then set the Bobcats down in order in the sixth. Martensen’s bid for a game-tying homer was about 10 feet short of the left-field fence.

Then, the Knights broke it open, with Olivia Allen’s three-run double the back-breaking blow. In all, only four of Assumption’s runs were earned.

“Our young girls were definitely nervous,” Martensen said. “A lot of people had their heads down.”

Benton will meet Atlantic (30-6) in a consolation game at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

DAVENPORT ASSUMPTION 14, BENTON COMMUNITY 4 (6 innings)

Class 3A State Quarterfinal, at Fort Dodge

Benton Community 002 110 — 4 7 5

Davenport Assumption 221 009 — 14 10 2

Grace Martensen, Kate Buscher (6) and Jaden Thys, Angie Gorkow (3), Brielle Hogan (6). Hannah Kelley, Alli Timmons (5) and Anna Wohlers. W — Kelley (21-1). L — Martensen (14-10). SV — Timmons (1).

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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