Dodgers begin tourney march

Fort Dodge softball coach Andi Adams knows full well that assumptions and arrogance lead to exits from the postseason.

The second-ranked (Class 4A) Dodgers are taking a humble approach to regional play, which begins with a semifinal matchup here Saturday against Spencer.

Game time is set for 7 p.m. on Diamond 1 at Rogers Park.

With 14 years and over 500 wins worth of experience on her resume, Adams has witnessed a little bit of everything at tournament time. So despite being an overwhelming favorite on paper, Fort Dodge (32-7 overall) will treat the Tigers (11-16) with nothing but respect from start to finish.

”Spencer is the only team we’re thinking about, and this is the only game we’re concentrating on,” Adams said. ”I’ve had teams on both sides of big upsets in one-and-done settings. There are no guarantees or free passes in the postseason.

”It’s the oldest cliche in the book, but you really do have to take it one game, one inning, one out and one pitch at a time.”

Winners of 13 straight overall, the Dodgers are in search of their seventh state tournament appearance under Adams in their first season as a 4A program. A victory tonight would advance FDSH into a regional final back at Rogers Park on Tuesday against either Sioux City Heelan (22-12) or Le Mars (19-16).

”We’re definitely playing well right now; the kids are loose and relaxed, yet excited. This is what they’ve been preparing for all year long,” Adams said. ”We told them (Friday at practice), ‘girls, this is your dance.’ They’ve earned this opportunity. Now it’s time to make the most of it.”

Junior Mallory Kilian, a University of Northern Iowa recruit, has 12 home runs, 50 RBI and a .496 batting average to lead the Dodgers. Kilian also sports a 16-4 pitching record with a 2.28 earned run average.

Senior Lexi Astor (.463, 32 runs, 30 stolen bases) and junior Lani Van Zyl (.387, 43 runs, 22 steals) are Fort Dodge’s other main offensive catalysts.

Spencer, which carries a four-game win streak of its own into tonight’s contest, is anchored by junior Karis Rhode (.433 average, four home runs, 18 stolen bases) and senior Piper Swanson (.333). Junior Madi Rost (9-11, 3.17 ERA) does most of the pitching for the Tigers, who advanced with a 7-2 victory over Algona on Thursday in a 4A regional quarterfinal.