FORT DODGE, Iowa — One streak came to a halt. The most important one is very much alive.
Davenport Assumption surrendered a run for the first time in five postseason games Thursday, but it was just a minor setback for the top-ranked team in Class 3A.
Fueled by seven hits from the bottom three spots in the order and five Center Point-Urbana miscues, Assumption collected its 43rd straight win and marched into the state final for the second consecutive year with a 9-1 victory at the Rogers Sports Complex.
The Knights (43-1) face ninth-ranked Albia in the 7:09 p.m. finale Friday, chasing the program’s first state softball title and an undefeated season against Iowa competition.
“Our loss last year has been our motivation all season,” sophomore shortstop Nicole Yoder said. “Every practice we think about how that loss (to Benton Community) felt. Now we have a chance to make a different outcome.”
Assumption outscored its first four tournament foes, 38-0, but CPU (30-11) struck for a run in the opening inning.
The Stormin Pointers, who came in batting better than .400 for the season, pieced together two walks, an infield hit and a ground out to manufacture a run against Nicole Timmons.
“I was a little bit nervous,” Timmons said. “I was having a little bit of trouble finding his (strike) zone. It was a little bit lower than I would have liked, but I thought (CPU) was really disciplined that first inning.”
Taylor Henderson’s RBI ground out was the first run Assumption had allowed in 51 2/3 innings, dating back to a June 29 game against North Scott.
“The real pressure early came from us,” Assumption coach Ron Ferrill said. “We didn’t play very clean ball and I didn’t like our focus early on.
“Our girls did an outstanding job making adjustments about the third inning and we played extremely well after that.”
Assumption (43-1) scored in every inning except the seventh. Four of the first five runs the Knights tallied were unearned.
“Our coach talks all the time about wanting to intimidate the other team before the game even starts,” Yoder said. “Putting that pressure on the other team helps us come out strong.”
The bottom of the order — Lea Nelson, Yoder and Emma Johnson — triggered the offense.
Nelson, typically a bunter who utilizes her speed, was 4-for-4 with a double, a run scored and two stolen bases. The second was a swipe of home in a two-run third that gave the Knights a 4-1 cushion.
“Lea had the game of her life,” Ferrill said. “That’s the best day she’s had swinging the bat.”
Nelson came into the state tournament hitting around .460 but that was in just 37 at-bats.
“To be honest, I had a lot of adrenaline and was really excited to play,” Nelson said. “We had Solon last year (in the semifinals) and our goal was not to make it as close. I just went up to the plate every time trying to swing out of my shoes.”
Ferrill said Nelson’s delayed steal home was a called play. CPU’s catcher nixed it the first time. The second time, Nelson pounced.
“That made my adrenaline boil,” Nelson remarked. “In those situations, you want to run as fast as you can and do something for the team.”
Yoder was 2-for-4 with an RBI and Emma Johnson had a lead-off single in the fourth that resulted in a run.
“They’re just a solid team, all the way around,” CPU infielder Claire Chandler said. “It is hard to find a weakness.”
The middle of the order came to life later in the game. Hannah Kelley, Carlie Sammon and Hannah Wislander each had two safeties for the Knights in their 14-hit output.
Timmons (24-0) settled in after the rocky start. She struck out 10 to push her season total to 301 and allowed only two hits in five innings, both to Chandler. Kelley worked the final two frames.
Since a season-opening loss to Moline 4-3, Assumption has outscored its opponents 369-22.
All of that will be forgotten though if the Knights can’t capture one more win. Assumption wants to reverse last year's 8-0 loss to Benton Community.
“We’ve matured a lot,” Ferrill said. “We’re the same but we’re a different team. We’re a faster team, our pitchers have matured a great deal and we’ve got some kids that have developed into leadership spots.
“They’ll embrace the situation (tomorrow). The pressure really will be on our opponent.”
Albia knocked off Mount Vernon 5-2 in the other semifinal. Assumption beat Albia in last year’s regional final, 4-0.
“We can’t think of past games,” Nelson said. “We have to dial it in. This is our last game, and we want to do it for the seniors.”