CLARKSVILLE — It has seemed like an eternity for the Clarksville Indians.
But the moment they had been waiting for finally arrived.
One year and six days after being upset on their home field in a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Janesville in the 2018 regional finals, a determined Clarksville squad was not going to be denied.
The third-ranked Indians broke open a close game in the fourth inning before downing Starmont 10-0 in five innings in a Class 1A Region 7 softball final Monday night.
Clarksville (31-1), the 2017 state runner-up, is headed back to the state tournament in Fort Dodge after a superb performance on Monday. The Indians will open with Algona Garrigan (29-6) on Monday at 1:30 p.m.
“A 10-0 win feels a heck of a lot better than a 1-0 loss, that’s for sure,” Clarksville coach Katie Wedeking said. “Our girls were really motivated and they talked about it before the game. They said remember what happened last year and let’s make sure it doesn’t happen again. They came out here focused and made a big statement. Their goal was to 10-run teams in the regional tournament and we were able to do it again.”
Starmont entered the game with just a 17-21 record, but the Stars had been on a roll offensively after scoring a combined 27 runs in three postseason wins.
That came to a screeching halt Monday night while facing one of the state’s most dominant pitchers in Clarksville junior Kori Wedeking.
Starmont’s Hayley Goedken singled up the middle to start the game, but that was about all the Stars could manage against the hard-throwing Wedeking.
The younger sister of the head coach, Wedeking struck out 11, including seven straight batters in one stretch.
“The loss last year in the regional hurt a lot,” Kori Wedeking said. “All of us have been waiting for this game for a while – it’s been a long wait. We were so anxious for this game to get here. We’re so excited to be going back to state. We can’t wait to play in the state tournament again.”
Kori Wedeking effectively mixed a fastball, riseball and changeup in allowing just two hits in five innings. She had pinpoint control of her pitches and did not walk a batter.
“I think it was helpful that they had never seen her before,” Coach Wedeking said. “Kori’s riseball and changeup were effective, and she’s definitely throwing the fastest she ever has in her career.”
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Leading 2-0, Clarksville struck for three runs in the fourth inning before tacking on five more in the fifth to end the game on the 10-run rule.
Emma Poppe supplied the big hits in both innings, crushing a solo home run to left field in the fourth before ripping a two-run double to right-center field in the fifth.
For Poppe, sister of American Idol winner Maddie Poppe, it was her first home run of the season.
“We wanted this game so bad after what happened last year – we were really upset about that loss and we didn’t want it to happen again,” Emma Poppe said. “Everyone in our lineup was swinging the bats well tonight. I’m so proud of all of my teammates for stepping up. It was a great team effort.”
Poppe delivered from the No. 7 spot in the order while No. 8 batter Chloe Ross doubled, tripled and scored three runs. No. 9 hitter Bailey Myers added a double and a triple while scoring twice for the Indians.
“7-8-9 in our lineup, those players had been struggling recently,” Coach Wedeking said. “To see them come through in this game, it was really good to see. They did a great job for us.”
Leadoff batter Cheyenne Behrends contributed three hits and two RBIs for Clarksville.
The Indians now head back to Fort Dodge next week. They fell just one win short of a state title two years ago.
“We’re really excited to have an opportunity to play at the state tournament again,” Poppe said. “It’s awesome to be going back there. If we play like we have been, I think we can do really well.”
Clarksville 10, Starmont 0
Starmont 000 00 — 0 2 5
Clarksville 110 35 — 10 13 1
Hayley Goedken and Regan Janssen. Kori Wedeking and Ainsley Lovrien. 2B: Janet Borchardt, Emma Poppe, Chloe Ross, Bailey Myers. 3B: Ross, Myers. HR: Poppe.