There was no conference championship on the line, or even dual Top-5 rankings, as had been the norm in the past.
Nevertheless, Fort Dodge's 6-2 victory over seventh-ranked (Class 4A) West Des Moines Valley Friday night at Rogers Park tasted just as sweet as the others.
In fact, it had been 11 previous meetings since the Dodgers (23-15 overall) defeated their former CIML Iowa Conference rival Tigers (21-15).
Messenger photo by Britt Kudla
Lexi Astor of Fort Dodge makes a catch in center field on Friday at Rogers Park. For more photos, please visit CU at www.messengernews.net
Maddie Egli crushed a two-run homer as part of her 3-for-3 night with three RBI, while Lani Van Zyl had two hits and two runs scored.
Fort Dodge honored its two seniors before the game in Taylor Messerly and Megan Gibson. Both will continue their playing careers in the fall at colleges.
"Taylor and Megan both said it before the game, talking about how being a part of Fort Dodge softball isn't just a team thing - it's a family thing," said FDSH head coach Andi Adams, who won her 480th career game and 427th with the Dodgers. "They've meant so much to this program and are great seniors leaders.
FORT DODGE 6, WDM VALLEY 2
Valley011 000 0 - 2 8 1
Fort Dodge012 030 x - 6 8 0
Rachel Bakey (L, 12-5, 5 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 2 K, 1 BB), Callie Brown (1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 K, 0 BB) and Mackenzie Jones; Mallory Kilian (W, 14-6, 7 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 4 K, 4 BB) and Taylor Messerly. HR-V: Jones; FD: Maddie Egli. 2B-FD: Kilian. RBI-V: Brooke O'Holleam, Jones; FD: Kilian, Egli (3). SB-V: Katelyn Strauss; FD: Lexi Astor (2), Lani Van Zyl, Bre Ulrich. MH-FD: Van Zyl (2), Egli (3).
"We just need to keep the ball rolling into Monday (at Ames) and into the postseason."
Fort Dodge can clinch an outright CIC Northern title vs. the Little Cyclones. They are 7-3 in the league, while Mason City sports a 6-4 conference mark and plays Marshalltown that same night.
"We want that conference title," Adams said. "This was a big win (over Valley), but if we come out flat against Ames, it doesn't mean anything."
The Tigers got on the board first in the second, as sophomore Mackenzie Jones hit her second home run of the year.
Fort Dodge, though, answered in the bottom of the frame, as Riley Hartman drove in Egli to tie it at 1-1. Valley came back with a run in the third, but again, the Dodgers answered.
Lexi Astor reached after being hit by a pitch and proceeded to steal second. She than scored after Van Zyl singled and forced the Valley defense to try and make an out during a rundown.
Egli later doubled in Van Zyl, making it 3-2.
"We've had a lot of games this year where the little things didn't go our way," Adams said. "(Friday night) we played like I know we can play. I could not be more proud of every single member of this team. We made plays to back Mallory on defense, we hit with runners on and we did the little things needed to beat tradition-rich teams like Valley."
Messerly gunned down a runner at third in the fifth and the Dodger defense turned a key double play in the sixth, getting out of jams both times.
Fort Dodge provided Kilian (14-6) with some breathing room in the fifth, plating three runs - including an RBI double by the pitcher herself and Egli's two-run shot.
"Mallory did a great job of keeping Valley off balance," Adams said. "(The Tigers) just had 27 hits in a doubleheader split with No. 8 Ankeny, so they can really do some damage at the plate.
"Of course we respect (Valley) for what they have accomplished, but we never back down from anybody."
First-pitch in Monday's doubleheader is set for 6:15 p.m.