Ankeny pitcher Shayla Starkenburg is hoping to close out her high school career with a state softball championship.
Coach Amy Farmer, who will leave the Hawkettes’ program after the season, also wants to go out on top.
The duo moved a step closer to its goal as top-ranked Ankeny defeated Mason City 4-1 in a Class 5-A regional semifinal on Saturday at Ankeny. Starkenburg, an Iowa recruit, tossed a six-hitter and had 11 strikeouts to improve her record to 27-0.
“We want to win it all,” said Starkenburg. “That would be a great way to finish out our careers.”
Starkenburg helped Ankeny to a second-place finish in 4-A last season. She also played on the Hawkettes’ state runner-up basketball team in 2012.
“Getting second is not fun at all, so this year we’re going for first,” Starkenburg said. “I don’t want to get second for a third time.”
Farmer played on Ankeny’s last state championship softball team in 1996. Now she’d like to win a title as a coach before moving to Burlington, where she will become an assistant principal this fall.
“If you’re a coach and that’s not your team’s goal at the end of the year, then I think something’s wrong,” said Farmer. “That’s what you play for.”
Ankeny won despite being outhit by the Mohawks 6-3. The Hawkettes (35-6) scored three unearned runs in the second inning, capped by Ashlie Chambers’ two-run single.
Chambers then added a solo home run in the fifth, her eighth of the season.
“Our approach originally was to hit the ball on the ground, because their defense wasn’t as strong as what we usually face,” said Chambers. “I guess we didn’t go necessarily to game plan, but we got enough runs to win the game.”
Mason City (23-17) scored its only run in the sixth inning. Cortni Rush, Allison Scott and Tricia Notermann hit three consecutive one-out singles, but Starkenburg got out of the jam by striking out the next two batters.
The Hawkettes will host Fort Dodge (20-20) in the regional final on Tuesday.