Clarke and New Hampton played home run derby at the state softball tournament here Thursday.
The Chickasaws won that battle. The Lady Indians didn't mind one bit.
Clarke advanced to the Class 3A championship round by pounding out a tourney-record 21 hits and earning an entertaining 17-8 victory over New Hampton on Diamond 2.
Junior Carley Robins went deep twice for the Lady Indians (28-9 overall), who were relentless offensively in their quest to reach the finals for the first time since 1995. With whipping winds blowing out at over 20 miles per hour, the programs combined for a single-game record seven homers - four by the Chickasaws and three by Clarke.
''It was crazy,'' Robins said. ''When we got to (Rogers Park), we could tell right away that the wind was going to (benefit the hitters) and that gave us confidence because we're a pretty strong offensive team.
''All of our coaches played (softball) in college, so we go through all of the advanced drills that make us better (at the plate). We've been putting so much time and effort into this for years - to get a win and go to (the title game) is indescribable.''
CLARKE 17, NEW HAMPTON 8
Clarke 050 341 4 - 17 21 2
New Hampton 104 210 0 - 8 6 0
Libby Bemis (W, 19-6; 7 IP, 6 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 7 BB, 13 K) and Kassidy Spurgin; Jessica Crooks (L, 21-8; 6 IP, 17 H, 13 R, 13 ER, 2 BB, 2 K), Jamie Jackson (1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 0 K) and Jackie Whitman.
2B-C: Sarah Pate, Ashley Gibbs, Kassidy Spurgin; NH: Jennifer Ankrom. 3B-C: Kennedy Crees 2. HR-C: Carley Robins 2, Devon Carson; NH: Raelyn Webster 2, Jackie Whitman, Jessica Crooks. MH-C: Sarah Pate 4, Amanda Kindred 3, Carley Robins 3, Kennedy Crees 3, Devon Carson 3, Ashley Gibbs 2, Libby Bemis 2; NH: Raelyn Webster 2. RBI-C: Carley Robins 4, Devon Carson 3, Amanda Kindred 3, Kennedy Crees 3, Sarah Pate 3, Vanessa Bakley 1; NH: Raelyn Webster 3, Jessica Crooks 3, Jennifer Ankrom 1, Jackie Whitman 1.
The aforementioned Lady Indians' staff includes head coach Lindsay Diehl - a former Iowa Central pitching coach - as well as assistants Staci Ritchey and Brittany Martin, who are both ex-Triton players. Former ICCC head coach and current athletic director Rick Sandquist was in attendance yesterday, supporting Diehl, Ritchey and Martin by wearing a Clarke shirt.
''I couldn't be more pleased with the way we swung the bats,'' said Diehl, a Clarke High graduate and former standout player herself. ''To have 21 hits (at state) is just insane. Of course the wind helped, but we were really focused and didn't get too caught up in trying to just hit for power (13 of Clarke's 21 hits were singles).''
Senior Sarah Pate, a University of Northern Iowa track and field recruit, went 4-for-5 with three RBI. Robins, Kennedy Crees, Devon Carson and Amanda Kindred added three hits each. Between those five players, 16 runs were driven in and only seven outs were made in 23 at-bats.
Crees had two triples.
Leadoff hitter Raelyn Webster went deep twice for New Hampton (28-10). Jessica Crooks and Jackie Whitman also homered.
Clarke led 5-1 in the second, but New Hampton plated four runs in the third to temporarily knot the score. The Lady Indians then exploded for three runs in the third and four more in the fourth. They tacked on four insurance runs in the seventh for good measure.
After the contest, Clarke players celebrated by yelling ''Fort Dodge!'' in unison under the tall tree along the first base side of Diamond 2.
The Lady Indians will face Bondurant-Farrar (29-12) at 2:30 p.m. on Diamond 1 for the 3A crown today. New Hampton squares off with Sergeant Bluff-Luton (34-4) in the third-place affair at 1:30 p.m. on Diamond 2.