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Lancers defeat Comets 11-0 in Class 4A State Softball quarterfinals

Lancers defeat Comets 11-0 in Class 4A State Softball quarterfinals
Press photos by John Burbridge
Charles City shortstop Kiki Connell pivots to attempt to complete a 4-6-3 doubleplay after forcing North Scott’s Natalie Naber at second during Monday’s Class 4A state softball quarterfinal. North Scott advanced with a 11-0 five-inning win.

By John Burbridge

FORT DODGE — The Charles City Comets had been here before.

That is on Rogers Sports Complex’s Iowa Central Field, a seemingly hexed place for the Comets during their annual trips to the State Softball Championships.

This is where one or two innings always tend to go sideways for the Comets during the quarterfinal or semifinal rounds, dooming their state title chances.

During Monday’s Class 4A opener against North Scott, history again repeated itself as the Lancers took advantage of several errors in the first inning to go up 5-0 before extending their lead to 8-0 through three innings.

But the Comets had also been here before — meaning playing from behind before rallying back, more so this season than in recent past seasons.

Against Lancer left-hander Ryann Cheek, who had fanned eight Comets through three innings, Charles City looked primed for yet another comeback bid.

After Comet sophomore Lydia Staudt bunted for her second hit of the game, junior Ashlyn Hoeft battled Cheek after getting behind early in the count and drilled a liner off one of the signs in left field for a long single. Allie Cross followed with a walk, and suddenly the Comets had the bases loaded with no outs.

After a pitching circle conference, Cheek managed to strike out the next two Comets before freshman Ava Ellis rapped a pitch up the middle of the diamond.

It looked as if Charles City was finally going to get on the board, but Lancer shortstop Taylor Robertson made a diving stop to keep the ball from reaching the outfield. Though Robertson could no way throw Ellis out at first from her prone position, her diving stop was right at the second-base bag — an ideal spot to force the runner at second and send the Comets away with another zero.

North Scott went on to score 3 more in the fourth inning. And when Lancer reliever Drew Lewis retired the Comets in the fifth inning while continuing to keep them off the scoreboard, the game ended in a shortened 11-0 final.

Sam Lee had three hits for the Lancers, including a pair of doubles. Rachel Anderson had a double and a triple for North Scott, which advances to play Carlisle in the semifinals at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Carlisle defeated LeMars 5-0 in its first-round game on Monday. The upcoming semifinal will be a rematch of last year’s Class 4A final, which Carlisle won.

It was the second-straight year in which the Lancers defeated the Comets at the state championships. Last year in the semifinals, North Scott rallied for 2 runs in the seventh inning before defeating Charles City in extra innings.

Seniors Lisabeth Fiser and Alex Litterer, both playing in their final high school game for Charles City, each recorded hits against North Scott.

With the state championships having recently adopted a “one-and-done” schedule for first-round losers, Charles City finished the season at 13-4.

This was the Comets’ fifth-straight state appearance. Of all the 40 state qualifiers at this year’s championships, Charles City had the most state appearances with 29. Only Clear Creek-Amana (34) has more.

With No. 4-seed North Scott advancing past No. 5-seed Charles City, and No. 1-seed Carlisle moving on after shutting out No. 8 LeMars, there was no “bracket-busting” on the top half of the Class 4A bracket. But the bottom half had No. 7 Winterset upsetting No. 2 West Delaware (7-4) and No. 6 Dallas Center-Grimes taking down No. 3 Fairfield (7-5).