Bombers place fifth in 3A at state softball: Ballard falls to Assumption, tops Sioux Center

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune

Ballard didn't stay down for long.

After suffering a 12-2 loss to defending state champion Davenport Assumption in the Class 3A quarterfinals of the state softball tournament the Bombers turned right around and thumped Sioux Center in the fifth-place game July 20.

The Bombers rolled to an 8-1 victory at the Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge.

Members and coaches of the Ballard softball team pose with its Class 3A fifth-place trophy after defeating Sioux Center in the 3A fifth-place game Wednesday, 8-1.

Ballard led 1-0 after two innings, upped its advantage to 3-0 in the fourth inning, added another run in the sixth then slammed the door on the Warriors in the seventh with a four-run outburst.

"The girls fought hard and really took care of business," Ballard head coach Charlie Husak said. "Defensively we were error free and Brooklyn (Baumgardner) just shut them down."

Baumgardner threw a four-hitter to get the win. She racked up an impressive 10 strikeouts against three walks for the sixth postseason victory of her career.

Offensively, Ballard connected four eight hits. Jada Lande led the way by smacking a pair of doubles and driving in three runners.

Ella Husak, Sam Vetter and Maggie Mortensen each doubled once for the Bombers. Husak was 2-for-4 with a run and a steal, Vetter 1-for-3 with two runs and an RBI and Mortensen 1-for-3 with two runs.

Jocie Hobbs finished 1-for-3 with two runs and an RBI, Kasey Larson hit a single and Payton Askelsen stole a base and scored a run.

"Offensively, we really did what we’ve been doing all postseason," Charlie Husak said. "The rabbits got on base and the hitters hit them in. We really pressured them and ran the bases hard and they made some mistakes we took advantage of."

Ballard finished the season with a 17-21 record playing against a brutal schedule that featured 12 games against state qualifiers. 

Sioux Center ended up 22-11. Tatum Schmalbeck was the losing Warrior pitcher against Ballard after giving up four earned runs on eight hits with seven strikeouts and two walks. Taya Gesink was 1-for-2 with an RBI, Schmalbeck scored a run and Ella Jahn was 3-for-3 for the Warriors.

Ballard junior Kasey Larson stretches for a play on a ball hit into center field during their Class 3A game against Davenport Assumption on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, during the Iowa high school girls state softball tournament in Fort Dodge.

Errors cost Ballard in quarterfinal loss to Assumption

Ballard couldn't overcome six errors in its 12-2 loss to Assumption in six innings during the 3A quarterfinals July 19.

"Unfortunately, just like with batting when one person gets a hit it rolls over to the next person and that was us with errors today," Ballard shortstop Ella Husak said. "We kind of fell apart."

Ballard sophomore Brooklyn Baumgardner throws a pitch against Davenport Assumption in their Class 3A game on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, during the Iowa high school girls state softball tournament in Fort Dodge.

After a Jocie Hobbs home run gave Ballard an early 2-1 lead, the Bombers gave up nine unanswered runs over the third and fourth innings.

"It was frustrating," Hobbs said. "The energy was going to us, but we were a little nervous. We needed to settle down."

Assumption took advantage of three Ballard errors in the bottom of the third inning to score three times and take a 4-2 lead. Jessie Wardlow, Abby Odean and Sydney Roe all had an RBI single in the inning.

The Knights scored five more times in the fourth to put the game away. They had six hits in the inning and also took advantage of two more Ballard errors.

"Taking advantage of errors is something we've been doing well all year," Assumption pitcher Bella Nigey said. "We're getting extra-base hits and picking up extra bases on errors."

Ballard outscored its three regional foes by a combined margin of 27-1 and it looked like the Bombers were going to carry that momentum over into the state quarterfinals after Hobbs' home run in the top of the third inning. Husak drew a two-out walk and then Hobbs rocked a shot that cleared the fence in left field.

"It was very exciting to be able to be there for my team," Hobbs said. "I was just looking to attack. She was coming first pitch on the batters before me, so I was ready."

Ballard sophomore Jocie Hobbs is greeted by her teammates at home plate after hitting a home run in the second inning against Davenport Assumption in their Class 3A game on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, during the Iowa high school girls state softball tournament in Fort Dodge.

Husak made a brilliant defensive play in the bottom of the fourth inning to try and keep her team in the game. Nigey hit a soft liner in the gap between short and second and Husak dove toward second and made the catch.

"It was nice because it was kind of a slow line drive so I had time to get over to it," Husak said. "I knew that Jocie was going to be behind me so if it missed my glove she'd be right there. But I just dove and put my glove where it was going to land and wished for the best."

Ballard ended up with five hits on offense. Hobbs finished with two hits after adding an infield hit in the sixth, Sam Vetter also singled twice and Maggie Mortensen added a single.

Baumgardner gave up 12 hits and finished with four strikeouts and two walks going the distance as a losing pitcher.

Sioux Center fell to Williamsburg in Tuesday's other 3A quarterfinal game. 

The Bombers didn't start a single senior against Assumption, going with six sophomores, two juniors and one eighth grader, so they feel good about their chances of returning to Fort Dodge in the future. 

"It's just good to be here," Husak said. "We're still younger and just getting our nerves out now. Maybe as we get to our junior and senior years we'll be used to being on this field with this many people."

Nigey got the win against Ballard, striking out five batters and walking two in five innings for the Knights, who eventually fell to Mount Vernon in the 3A title game to finish the season at 36-9.