LENOX — Mount Ayr sophomore Kirsten Dolecheck picked a good time to break out of a slump, as she helped the Raiderettes turn Class 1A Region 6 upside down here Wednesday night in a 5-2 win over Lenox.
The quarterfinal win for Mount Ayr advances the Raiderettes to a semifinal matchup with Pride of Iowa Conference rival Bedford on Friday night, after the Bulldogs knocked off ninth-ranked Murray, 9-4.
Dolecheck gave the Raiderettes a 4-0 lead in the top of the third inning when she smoked an 0-1 pitch over the right field fence for a three-run home run.
“She’s been in a slump,” Mount Ayr head coach Ranae Klinkefus said. “I think two strikeouts last night. She actually came in for extra BP. We threw a whole extra bucket of balls to her. She wants to and she’s one who is going to do whatever it takes.”
Both Dolecheck and Klinkefus sported huge grins on their faces as she rounded third base and shared a high-five with her coach.
Dolecheck wasn’t done yet, though.
Lenox scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning as Aurora Arevalo scored on a sacrifice fly by Makinna Fitzgerald and Katie Dukes scampered home from second on the play after the throw shot past Mount Ayr catcher Alyssa Johnson.
But Dolecheck came back with an answer in the top of the fifth inning.
This time, the Raiderette sophomore pulled a ball between the first and second basemen for a single, scoring Macy Larsen from third base, giving Mount Ayr a 5-2 lead.
Lenox mounted a big scoring threat in the bottom of the fifth inning, though.
A pair of infield singles and a fielder’s choice loaded the bases for the Tigers with just one out in the inning and the No. 3 and 4 batters in the lineup coming up.
But Shantelle Brown and Arevalo both flew out to right field, and the runner on third was unable to tag up, stranding all three baserunners.
“Had a flyball that should have scored a run,” Lenox head coach Tom Shields said. “The girl got excited and come back and tagged, and then took off before the ball was caught.”
It was a disappointing end to the inning for Shields, especially after his team squandered a golden opportunity in the bottom of the first inning, as well.
Senior Taylor Foster and Beth Christensen led off the inning with back-to-back infield singles, bringing up the No. 3, 4 and 5 hitters with no outs.
But Mount Ayr pitcher Tessa Shields recorded back-to-back strikeouts and then ended the inning on a flyball to left field.
“That’s the game,” Shields said. “You’ve got your opportunities and you’ve got to make the most of them when they present themselves. When you don’t capitalize on those, it usually comes back to bite you.”
Mount Ayr had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, when Paige Daughton reached on a dropped third strike, stole second base and then scored on a throwing error in an attempt to pick her off.
“I think it’s kind of a thing for us,” Klinkefus said. “If we can get up early, then we have a little bit more confidence rolling the rest of the game.”
Shields picked up the win for Mount Ayr, striking out five with no walks and six hits allowed. Christensen suffered her first loss of the season on the hill, giving up just one earned run with two walks and three strikeouts, giving up five hits.
Mount Ayr improved to 12-12 for the season. The Raiderettes return to action 7 p.m. Friday against Bedford in the regional semifinals. That game is scheduled to be held in Murray, but the IGHSAU may change the location of the game.
Wayne plays Lamoni in the other Region 6 semifinal.
Meanwhile, Lenox ends a successful season at 16-10.
“Not what we were expecting or hoping for coming in,” Shields said. “We knew it’d be a tussle, because they throttled us here on our home field last week. We were real pleased with it (the season). It’s the best we’ve done in the Pride of Iowa Conference — sole fourth place and in the West Division, we were 9-1.”
Four seniors played in their final game for Lenox. Graduating from the team are Foster, Chelsie Dukes, Sydney Barker and Cooper Bailey.
“We’ll miss our seniors,” Shields said. “They’ve been a good part of our team and we’ll miss them.”
Mount Ayr 5, Lenox 2
R H E
Mount Ayr 103 010 0 — 5 5 2
Lenox 000 200 0 — 2 6 5
MA: Tessa Shields 0BB 5K and Alyssa Johnson. Len: Beth Christensen 2BB 3K and Aurora Arevalo. W — Shields. L— Christensen. HR — MA: Kirsten Dolecheck 1. 3B — none. 2B — MA: Sara Winemiller 1. RBI — MA: Kirsten Dolecheck 4. Len: Makinna Fitzgerald 1. Multiple hitters — MA: Dolecheck 2. Len: Taylor Foster 2, Katie Dukes 2.