CAMANCHE - There's no doubt anymore that the Camanche softball team belongs in the rankings.
Especially after they defeated their second ranked opponent of the year on Thursday night, dominating Class 2A No. 5 Wilton 11-2 at home.
The Indians, who started the season unranked, slipped into the No. 11 spot in Class 3A when the last rankings were released. They should be climbing even higher after Thursday's victory.
"We definitely had a team or two early on that played us tough, but we knew this was kind of a step up for us today," head coach Kevin Roling said. "The first inning, going down 1-0, it was great to see us respond with two runs right behind that. We really didn't lose an inning and that's really our goal."
That doesn't mean it wasn't a hard fought one.
The Beavers actually struck first against the Indians. With two outs, Chloe Wells made contact on a pitch from starter Tarah Wehde and sent it straight over the fence.
"One thing we talked about, our Achilles heel is our first inning on defense," Roling said. "If we're giving up runs, we're giving them up in the first inning. We need to come in more prepared and more ready to play good ball there."
That didn't phase the Indians too much. Wehde allowed another single, but recorded her first strikeout of the night to get them out of the first down just the one run. Then she led off the home half of the inning with a single, followed shortly by the first of four home runs on the night from senior Madi Parson.
The third inning saw two consecutive errors from Camanche to allow another Wilton run to cross home. The defense tightened up from there, now allowing any more errors and seeing for more strikeouts from Wehde.
"The first innings can be rough for me sometimes, but then I start getting in my momentum," Wehde said. "Things start clicking, I start moving the pitches, things were working really well."
Wilton didn't go down without a fight. They had base runners in every single inning with some screaming hits through the infield. The Camanche defense had to be on their toes.
"I knew coming into the game that they were a good hitting team," Wehde said. "I knew what they could do and they were hitting everything."
The Indians really pulled away in the bottom of the third and fourth innings. Tarah Wehde started the third off with a solo home run. Abby Stock followed it up with a single, and then Lauren Snyder sent one soaring into the fans beyond the center field fence.
"We need those big hits against a team like this," Wehde said. "You never know so any hit that we get is important in these types of games. These teams are going to hit back and we need to be prepared for that."
Up 5-2 going into the fourth, the Indians strung together more hits, including Wehde's second home run of the night, to tally six more runs and solidify their lead.
The No. 11 Indians stay undefeated and head to Calamus-Wheatland on Saturday for an all-day invitational. To start their weekend, they take on River Valley Conference and local rival Northeast (7-3).
"We play our rival right off the bat, and throw records right out the window," Coach Roling said. "They're going to give us their best game, they always do."
After that, they look to continuing conference play on Monday. They take on Anamosa at home, seeing another undefeated team come into Camanche.
"We're going to settle in and look to Monday," Roling said. "We're going to protect our own field."