FORT DODGE, Iowa — Davenport Assumption has won back-to-back state softball championships and been ranked No. 1 all season. Algona was unranked and never been to the state tournament.
Pushover, right? Hardly.
Assumption had to sweat out a 3-2 win over the eighth seed in the Class 3A quarterfinals Monday night at the Rogers Sports Complex.
“It does show any given night, any given inning, it could turn on a dime,” Assumption pitcher Allie Timmons said. “You’ve got to stay on your toes and be ready every second of every day.
“That was a little bit of a wakeup call for us.”
The Knights (39-2) did enough to win their 16th consecutive postseason game and advance to a semifinal at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday against fifth-seeded Waterloo Columbus (36-4), an 8-5 winner over Albia.
“I’m proud of how the girls fought through it,” Assumption coach Ron Ferrill said. “A one-run win is as good as 10 here. You just want to survive and move on.”
It appeared it was going to be a runaway early.
Assumption built a 3-0 lead after the first two innings with small ball. Cleanup hitter Anna Wohlers, who smacked two home runs in the regional final, laid down a bunt for a single to score Lea Nelson.
“I haven’t been called on to bunt much, but when I was given the sign, I knew I needed to get the job done for my team,” Wohlers said.
Nelson, who was 3-for-3 and matched a 3A state tournament record with four stolen bases, drove in Emma Johnson with a two-out single in the second.
Timmons was cruising in the circle and flummoxed Algona with her riseball. She struck out 10 and yielded just one baserunner in the four innings.
“Allie pitched a fantastic game,” Ferrill said.
The Bulldogs (17-11) started to lay off the riseball in the later innings and Timmons felt the umpire’s strike zone tightened.
Algona capitalized in the sixth.
After Timmons issued consecutive walks to load the bases, Kameryn Etherington ripped a one-out double to center to plate two.
Ferrill elected to intentionally walk Nicole Smidt to load the bases. Timmons wiggled out of the jam with an infield pop out and ground ball to third base.
“The umpire was starting to squeeze me a little bit and I was hitting my low riseball a little too high,” Timmons said. “I tried to go to the dropball and got hit a little bit.
“My team helped calm me down. I knew I had to throw strikes and my defense would have my back.”
Assumption never could add on after the second inning.
It stranded a leadoff double from Nicole Yoder in the third, left Nelson at third in the fifth and Lauren Loken couldn’t come across after hitting a two-out triple in the sixth.
“I think for a couple innings, we did get a little too comfortable,” Wohlers said. “That’s not what we usually do. We need to get more runs, keep the foot on the pedal.
"Credit their pitcher (Etherington) for keeping us to three runs."
Timmons worked a perfect seventh to secure the win. She allowed just three hits and finished with 12 strikeouts to run her record to 30-0 on the season.
Nelson admitted it was tense in the late innings but the confidence never wavered.
“We knew as long as we had a bat in our hands, we could do anything,” Nelson said. “Allie is so confident on the mound.”
It was a rare close call for the Knights.
They had run-ruled their three regional opponents and hadn’t been tested in their games against 3A opponents this season.
Nelson called it an eye-opener.
“I’m sure it will be good for us,” Ferrill said. “It is good for everybody but me. It is bad on my heart.
“Any time you’ve got to battle through and get a win, it is good for you.”