A day to remember

To say Saturday’s victory in the finals of the Fort Dodge Invitational will be one Andi Adams never forgets wouldn’t do it justice.

The fourth-ranked (Class 4A) Dodgers defeated No. 2 Solon, 6-5, to give Adams her 500th career win.

Making it even more memorable was the fact that Adams and her family buried a cousin, Jordan Hanson, between a semifinal win over Winterset and the championship game.

“To call this a storybook situation would be an understatement,” an emotional Adams said, moments after giving her father, Craig, a hug. “The outpouring of support we receive from this community means so much to me and these girls. And they wanted to do everything in their power to win this for me, considering everything going around it.

“These girls knew Jordan because he was around the team and they were emotionally invested in this as much as I was.”

Adams reflected on a move she made recently to prepare Fort Dodge (17-5 overall) for the upcoming stretch run, which included a return home for the first time in a number of games.

“I started reading the Pat Summit book, ‘Sum It Up,’ and we have been having almost a storytime moment before games where I read a passage to them and they have embraced it.

“I really feel like this was all meant to be for us, but at the same time, these girls have worked so hard and been coached by so many great members of our community that they earned it, as well.”

Mallory Kilian earned her second win on the day, adding a home run and double in the finals. The University of Northern Iowa-signee had two hits and two RBI in a semifinal win over 10-0 victory over Winterset.

Mallory Kilian, who was challenged by Adams earlier this week, came through both at the plate and inside the circle. The University of Northern Iowa-signee earned both wins and was 4-for-4 with four RBI and a solo home run.

Following a two-run homer from Ali Herdliska in the fifth, Kilian issued a walk. She proceeded to get the next three Spartan batters out, ending the game due to the tourney time limit.

“I really got after Mallory to step up and become more of the leader we know she can be,” Adams said. “I am so proud of her, but everyone else, as well, because they also came through when we needed them to.

“We played like we needed to play to beat a team like Solon. We were excellent in the field for the most part, we had clutch hits when we needed them to and we had great pitching.”

Heading into the fifth, the Dodgers trailed Solon 3-2. They responded with four runs on just two hits, as Lani Van Zyl, Lexi Astor, Toryn Pederson and Maddie Bodholdt all came around to score.

Van Zyl was 2-for-3 with two runs and a steal in the finals, while Maddie Egli recorded two hits and drove in a run on a bases loaded walk.

“We had so much patience at the plate against a very good pitcher in (Holly Hinkel),” Adams said. “I was proud of the way our girls battled with two strikes up there, and what can you say about Lani that hasn’t already been said. She’s just a great threat at the top of the lineup and continues to get better every game.

For Adams, despite all the emotion of the day, she was still able to look towards the future, as the state softball championship will be played on the same diamond next month.

“This feels incredible, but we want to have this same feeling here in a few weeks,” Adams said. “And now we’ll have a Solon team gunning for us and revenge.”

The win came against Jim White, a regular at state with Clear Creek-Amana before moving over to Solon. Her 300th career victory was against another icon in Iowa high school softball, as Fort Dodge defeated Cedar Rapids Jefferson and head coach Larry Niemeyer.

Against Winterset, Van Zyl collected three hits, scored twice and drove in a run, while Kilian, Egli, Meagan Hartman and Kinna Teske all had two hits each. Egli and Hartman drove in a pair of runs.

The Dodgers play at Ames on Monday before returning home to face No. 9 (5A) Waukee on Wednesday.