An experienced field is set to begin the opening round in class 4A at the state softball tournament in Fort Dodge. The schools all combined had been in the tournament 76 times. A couple of exceptions are top-ranked Pleasant Valley and Johnston, who meet tonight as both make their first appearance in the tournament. West Des Moines Valley the 2003 champ and defending champion West Des Moines Dowling are also back. The home town crowd in Fort Dodge will see their team try for it’s first title tonight as they face Cedar Rapids Jefferson. The Class 1A semifinals are also tonight and top-ranked Charter Oak-Ute will take on number five Laurens-Marathon for the right to advance. Charter Oak Ute got by Don Bosco in the opening round while Bryn Johnson pitched and hit Laurens-Marathon to an opening round victory over fifth rated Murray. Two years ago the chargers played in the tournament for the first time and finished fifth. Johnson says that experience has helped them this week. Records can be deceiving and that has certainly been the case for Alburnett which will take on 9th ranked Newell Fonda. The Pirates are 34-17 most of those losses were against bigger schools and coach Kevin Johnson says the competition has paid off in the post season. He says they don’t care so much about the losses, it’s the experience they gain in playing those games that helps them come tournament time. Both of these teams posted first round upsets. Alburnett beat third ranked North Mahaska while Newell Fonda survived eight errors to beat second ranked southeast Webster.
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