DUBUQUE, Iowa — It just wasn't meant to be.
Despite allowing just four hits and only four balls out of the infield all night, Davenport West fell 4-0 to Dubuque Hempstead in a Class 5A regional final Tuesday at Dubuque Hempstead High School.
Hempstead earns its first-ever state berth and plays Indianola next Tuesday.
"You've got to have some luck to win a championship," West head coach Jake Schumann said. "Not that they were lucky today but we've got to have balls fall our way and they didn't and the pitcher really pitched really well. They played better than we did today and we played better than them two weeks ago when it didn't count."
The Falcons beat the Mustangs 5-1 last month but got off to a rocky start in the rematch.
Alana Cooksley led off the bottom of the first inning with a walk, followed by an infield single from Kaylie Springer.
After Morgan Krug struck out, Katie Schaul drew a walk to load the bases.
Kayla LaPage hit a ball back to pitcher Sara Weisrock, but Weisrock's throw home was too high, allowing two runs to score despite the Mustangs never getting the ball out of the infield.
"That's a hard thing to mentally come back from and we've done it all year but tonight we just didn't do it," Schumann said. "Tonight, their pitcher pitched a heckuva game and she was just better than us today."
Hempstead pitcher Julia Meehan allowed just four hits and struck out six in the game. She came in with a certain mentality after watching the Falcons beat teammate Malarie Huseman last month.
"Just go at them. You can't play tight, just played my game and go at them," Meehan said. "Trust the defense, trust the offense, just do nothing out of our norm. As a pitcher you can't just sit back, you have to control the game and that's what I did."
Meehan's mindset was backed up all night by a strong defense.
While Hempstead (31-11) was content to play small ball, West made solid contact but couldn't find any gaps to take advantage of.
The Falcons (26-16) hit 10 balls out of the infield but of their four hits, two came in the final inning. West had runners on second and third with two outs before Meehan struck out Taylor Utterback to end the game and start the Hempstead celebration.
"I don't even feel like we did it," Meehan said. "It's so surreal right now, I can't believe we did it. As seniors, we came in as eighth graders wanting to do this, it's just an unbelievable feeling right now to get the job done."
Hempstead did show off a little of its power in the game as well. Cooksley hit a long ball that bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double and RBI, then Krug led off the fifth inning with a home run to give the Mustangs a 4-0 lead.
"It happens. Sometimes you just hit it where they're at and they were hitting where we weren't so there's the difference there," senior Jayme Finn said. "I think maybe we came out here thinking that since we already beat them once that we were going to get to walk all over them. They really wanted to beat us so they came out here ready to play and we took them way too lightly."
Finn is one of five seniors on the Falcons and has been a key part of the team since eighth grade, helping West reach the state tournament in 2016.
Though West finishes one game short of Fort Dodge, Finn believes the program is in a good position moving forward after Schumann's first year at the helm.
"The younger girls look up to us seniors a lot and I think some of them are ready to fill our spots," Finn said. "They're in good hands with the new coaches we have."
Dubuque Hempstead 4, Davenport West 0
Sara Weisrock, Kaylie Caldwell and Megan Weisrock; Julia Meehan and Kayla LaPage. WP -- Meehan (15-5); LP -- S. Weisrock (12-6). 2B -- West (Emma Lee); Hempstead (Alana Cooksley). HR -- Hempstead (Morgan Krug). RBI -- Hempstead (Cooksley, Krug).
Team records -- Davenport West 26-16 (final); Dubuque Hempstead 31-11