FORT DODGE — Davenport Assumption High School's softball team has had to sit on a state semifinal mishap for 358 days.
The Knights made sure it did not happen again. Emphatically.
The top-ranked squad in Iowa Class 3A pounced on sixth-ranked Atlantic in the opening inning Wednesday afternoon, added a half-dozen runs in the second frame and cruised to a 12-0 rout in four innings in a semifinal tilt at the Roger Sports Complex.
“We were really dialed in,” junior outfielder Sydney Roe said. “We didn’t want to have a repeat of last year.”
Assumption stumbled to Williamsburg in last year’s semifinal to have its opportunity at four straight state championships dashed. It has stewed over that defeat throughout the offseason and a 37-game regular season.
It was brought up multiple times between Monday night’s quarterfinal win over Clarke and Wednesday’s semifinal.
“We used it as a focal point and reminder,” Assumption coach Ron Ferrill said. “We came in real confident last year and that happened. We needed to make sure that didn’t happen again.”
Assumption (39-3) is one triumph from its fourth state title in five years. Second-ranked Mount Vernon, a 6-2 winner over Williamsburg, awaits in the final at 2:30 p.m. Friday.
It will be Assumption's fifth championship game appearance in six years. It will be Mount Vernon's first final.
“We’re ready for that championship game,” senior Anna Wohlers said.
The Knights sucked any drama out of their semifinal game quickly.
Bella Nigey struck out Atlantic’s first three hitters.
Assumption’s Olivia Wardlow and Helen Sons laid down bunt singles. Wardlow came around to score on a bases-loaded walk to Libby Madden.
“We had what I feel was a pretty good scouting report on them,” Ferrill said. “We knew we were going to be able to do some things, especially if Olivia and Helen started us off right. They did awesome, ignited us and the girls never really looked back.”
The second inning is when the Knights really separated themselves.
Wohlers poked a bases-loaded, two-run single. Maddie Loken came through with a two-run double. Madden and Lauren Loken added run-scoring hits.
“It was huge,” Maddie Loken said of her hit. “It built my confidence and built everybody else’s too. We just all built off it.”
Maddie Loken has seen her average dip below .375.
"She's a special athlete," Ferrill said. "She hasn't really shown people how good she really is. She's played a near flawless shortstop, but offensively she's just a freak. She's battled some mental things in there at the plate.
"She came through there and hopefully it can ignite her into Friday."
The Knights tacked on in the third.
Atlantic elected to pitch around Wohlers, who has 20 home runs this season.
Like Clarke on Monday night, Roe made them pay. The powerful right-hander laced a three-run homer to center to pad the cushion to 10-0.
“I knew they would pitch around (Anna) because she hit the ball harder in an earlier at-bat,” Roe said. “I knew I had to come through for my team.”
Wohlers flashed a big smile as Roe crossed home plate.
“I looked at her and said, ‘Really, I have to get walked for you to do that?’” Wohlers said. “In all seriousness, she’s a great hitter and we’ve got all the confidence in the world in her.”
Nigey was crisp in the circle.
The junior yielded just two singles and struck out eight. Atlantic (34-6) never had a runner get past first base.
“She did a phenomenal job,” Wohlers said. “She was spinning the ball like she should be. This was her ‘A’ game, and I hope she brings it for the next one. I know she will.”
Assumption has outscored its five postseason opponents 58-2 in only 24 innings. It hasn't had a game go the full seven innings.