Joni Erwin said Washington wanted to ''shock the softball world'' on Tuesday.
The unranked Demons accomplished their mission, upsetting No. 3 Solon in a Class 4A state quarterfinal matchup at Rogers Park. Just don't include their players among the surprised.
Erwin's three-run triple in the first inning was the trigger that helped Washington blindside the mighty Spartans 6-1 on Diamond 2 yesterday. It will go down as the tournament's most stunning moment thus far, but only on paper according to the senior and her teammates.
''We knew coming in that anything was possible,'' said Erwin, one of eight starters back in Fort Dodge who helped the Demons place fourth in Class 2A a year ago. ''Rankings don't mean anything once you get up here. We respected Solon and knew they had a great record, but we weren't intimidated by (the opponent or the environment) because of our experiences here (last season) and the confidence we have in each other.
''There wasn't any pressure on us. I'm sure no one expected us to do this, but we believed.''
The Spartans (40-3 overall) had scored an all-class high 389 runs and were batting .436 as a team coming into the week, plating 10 or more runs in a game 22 different times. Their mighty offense was silenced on Tuesday, though, by Washington junior hurler Ashley Rausch (17-9).
WASHINGTON 6, SOLON 1
Solon 010 000 0 - 1 5 1
Washington 310 200 x - 6 12 1
Emily Ira (L, 19-2; 3.2 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 1 K), Holly Hinkel (2.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) and Ali Herdliska; Amber Linnenkamp (1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K), Ashley Rausch (W, 17-9; 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K) and Kaitlin Buchholz.
2B-W: Kaitlin Buchholz; S: Taylor Nearad, Ali Herdliska. 3B-W: Joni Erwin. SB-S: Ali Herdliska, Riley Ogden. MH-W: Joni Erwin (2), Maddie Bohr (2), Sammy Ellingson (2), Kaitlin Buchholz (2); S: Alyssa Rickels. RBI-W: Joni Erwin (3), Sammy Ellingson, Kaitlin Buchholz, Ashley Rausch; S: Emily Ira. LOB-Solon 8, Washington 7.
''Our defense was great, and the (three early runs) really boosted our confidence and settled down the nerves,'' said Rausch, who worked five innings and allowed only a single run. ''I think we were a lot more relaxed this time around, though. Last year was a little overwhelming. We were more prepared mentally and physically for what was coming, and I definitely think this was our best all-around game of the year.''
Erwin, Maddie Bohr, Sammy Ellingson and Kaitlin Buchholz had two hits each for the Demons (30-11 overall), who out-hit Solon 12-5. Erwin finished with three RBI, while Buchholz scored twice.
The Spartans lost in the 3A championship round last summer, but welcomed new head coach Jim White - a legend at Clear Creek-Amana - and four of his former Clipper players to the program for the 2013 campaign. Solon's only two setbacks all season long before yesterday came at the hands of No. 2 (4A) Dallas Center-Grimes.
''We've been down and even down late (in games before), but we've always fought back,'' White said. ''We were used to jumping right back in it and rallying when we needed to. By the fifth inning (Tuesday), though, we were starting to panic a little at the plate.''
Washington has another tall task ahead on Thursday against No. 4 Carlisle (33-7) in a semifinal contest at 5:30 p.m. Erwin isn't worried about a potential letdown.
''We just need to stay humble, stay grounded and keep focused,'' Erwin said. ''We have the (players) to do that. We're not about to get ahead of ourselves or get satisfied with just this (one win).''
Solon will meet Waverly-Shell Rock in a consolation semifinal at noon here today on Diamond 2.