(Fort Dodge) -- Down four runs in a Class 1A state semifinal with third-seeded Lisbon, No. 2 Wayne wouldn’t quit. The Falcons put together multiple rallies before their final gasp fell short in a 4-3 defeat.
“The way we finished was good,” Coach Heather Fortune said. “The girls came together there in the end. I couldn’t have asked them to go any harder until the very last pitch was thrown.”
The finish was strong for the Falcons (24-5), which falls into the third place matchup with Pride of Iowa Conference rival Southeast Warren, but the hole that was dug early in the game was a little too deep to manage.
Lisbon scored a pair of runs in both the second and third innings, needing just one total hit to get them. The Lions scored a pair of second-inning runs with one out on a single, a missed tag error, a hit by pitch, a safety squeeze and a sacrifice fly. In the third, they put up two more with a hit batter, a sacrifice bunt and three errors.
After the third inning, though, Wayne pitcher Sterling Berndt was dominant. The left-handed junior star retired 13 straight before a two-out single in the seventh. She quickly diminished that potential rally with another strikeout to end the inning.
“She was determined and just buckled down,” Fortune said. “She shook some of the nerves and just got to business. She and (catcher Camryn Jacobsen) do a great job together, and I couldn’t have asked them to do anymore.”
While Berndt was putting up goose-eggs, the offense started to find some room in the arsenal of Ryleigh Allgood, who tied a single-game state tournament record with 15 strikeouts. Berndt got one run back in the third with her sixth home run of the season.
Wayne put two on the corners with one out in the fourth, but Allgood followed with back-to-back strikeouts. In the sixth, Mya Willey led off with a double and scored on an infield hit by Izzie Moore, and Emily Jones, who was hit by a pitch, eventually scored on a throwing error back to the pitcher.
Even the seventh inning brought promise. Berndt led off with a double to left center, but she was stranded there after a pair of strikeouts and a foul out.
“We knew (Allgood) was tiring out just a little bit,” Fortune said. “We just had to attack the ball. Unfortunately, we just didn’t make the plays when we needed to with runners in scoring position. It hurt us in the end.”
The third-place game with the Warhawks marks the third meeting between the two teams this season, and it represents the rubber match. Southeast Warren won 3-2 on June 1st before a 7-6 walk-off win for Wayne on July 1st.
“I hope we come back stronger,” Fortune said. “We’ve got the POI (rubber match). We hoped that would be in the championship game. We’ve rooted for Southeast Warren the entire time hoping one or two of us would be in the championship game. It just didn’t work out this time.”
The Wayne/Southeast Warren game is slated for a 3:30 first pitch on Thursday. View the complete video interview with Coach Fortune below.