WEST LIBERTY — Less than a month ago, the Williamsburg softball team was sitting at 5-12, not looking much like a state tournament contender.
Now, the Raiders find themselves one win away from Fort Dodge.
Ashley Hooper’s two-out, two-run single in the top of the fourth inning proved to be the differ-ence as Williamsburg went on to upset No. 12 West Liberty, 3-1, in a Class 3A Region 7 semifinal on Friday night before an overflow crowd at the West Liberty Elementary School Field.
Coach Adam Berte’s team (25-14) will play on the road again Monday night in the regional final against No. 2 Albia, a 12-0 winner Friday in four innings over West Burlington.
West Liberty retires at 24-11.
During the stretch of 20 wins in 22 games, the Raiders’ offense has been front and center. That wasn’t the case Friday. They only managed six hits for the game, but that was more than enough for senior pitcher Nicole Zuber, who allowed only two hits, none after the third inning.
The hosts took a 1-0 lead in the third when Austyn Crees rapped a two-out double, scoring Janey Gingerich, who had walked.
“The first three innings were not really the way we have been going hitting-wise,” Berte said. “We have been putting a ton of runners on the past two weeks so we figured we get some on eventually.”
The runners came in the fourth for Williamsburg. Senior Kortni Gensley reached on an error to open the inning. Charley Geguzis followed with an infield single. West Liberty starter Emma Martin retired the next two hitters, bringing Hooper to the plate.
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“I was just hoping to hit the ball and get my teammates in,” she said. “I saw the pitch pretty good and just hit it hard.”
Hooper’s ball shot past Comet shortstop Hailee Lehman. Hooper moved all the way to third on a throwing error and scored when Zuber followed with a double to right center.
Zuber did the rest, allowing just one walk over the final five innings.
Hooper said the team realized it was better than its 5-12 start.
“I think we all just kind of picked our heads up,” Hooper said. “We knew we had potential to be a really good team so we all just got it through our brains and worked together.”
Berte knows his team will be an underdog against Albia.
“We think we are pretty good,” he said. “We’ve seen Albia play and they are pretty good too. I know our girls are excited to play. They haven’t been in a game like this for a long time.”