Lady Eagles repeat in sectional
When Lanesville’s softball team captured a Class 1A sectional crown last year ‘ the first sectional title for the softball program and the first in any sport for the school since 1997 ‘ there was relatively little fanfare outside of the traditional ride on a township fire truck.
Last Thursday, after senior Allison Horton struck out her 11th batter of the night to end a thrilling, 3-1, win for the Lady Eagles, it was time to celebrate in style
Fireworks exploded in the sky, a large gathering of vociferous student fans that had set up beyond the center field fence made their way onto the diamond, and Lanesville superfan Pete Schickel stood on his head near the pitching rubber.
It was the perfect ending to a come-from-behind victory by the No. 3-ranked (Class 1A) Lady Eagles, who saw themselves trailing from the outset. Two-and-a-half innings later, the club took advantage of a pair of New Washington errors to take a 2-1 lead and never looked back.
‘They gave us a run for the money,’ Lanesville coach Kayla Straub said. ‘They got more hits on us today than they had probably in all of the times we played in the last two years. We made a couple of errors, but we came back. That’s just what we did today was just keep fighting and keep coming back.’
With the win, Lanesville (23-2) returns for regional action Saturday on its home diamond. They will play in a ‘Battle of the Birds’ against the Springs Valley Lady Blackhawks at 1 p.m. in the second game of the regional, preceded by a tilt between Hauser and Jac-Cen-Del at 11 a.m.
The championship is at 7 p.m.
New Washington’s Caasi Robertson led off the game with a single and then stole second and third. A fielder’s choice out by Kaelin Tuell gave her club a 1-0 lead as Horton surrendered just her third earned run of the season.
Things looked bleaker after Brittney McKee roped a double to left, but Lanesville would catch a break.
Courtesy runner Nicole Walker went to third on a wild pitch by Horton, and when catcher Leslie Kaufer’s throw to the bag sailed into left, Walker tried to score.
In a scenario that would play itself out two more times on the night, Walker was gunned at the plate.
Lanesville almost had another break, but this one involved not luck, but a nose.
On the first pitch of the bottom half of the first inning, Lady Eagle senior shortstop Brittany Mix fouled the ball off her bat and onto her nose. She retired to the dugout to stop a slow trickle of blood but eventually returned to finish her at-bat.
‘I can’t tell you what I was thinking. I knew that she was going to keep playing as long as it wasn’t cut. She came in and it was really swelled up, but it wasn’t cut. She’s got heart,’ Straub said.
As with the next two batters in the lineup, Mix struck out.
Mix would redeem herself two innings later.
Erin Harbeson reached on an error, and then, with two outs, Mix stepped to the plate.
The senior promptly roped a triple along the left field line to score her teammate.
‘She really torqued it,’ Straub said. ‘She didn’t let down any from being hit in the nose earlier.’
Mix strutted across the plate after Leslie Kaufer reached on New Washington’s second error of the inning to give Lanesville a 2-1 lead.
Two innings later, Mix drew a one-out walk, moved to third on a Lady Mustang error and scored on a bloop single by Horton.
After the opening inning, Horton gave up just one hit: a double by Robertson to lead off the sixth. Robertson was thrown out at third, however, trying to stretch her two-bagger into three.
‘We knew they were going to run on us, and I guess they didn’t think we could throw them out,’ Straub said. ‘We made some errors, but our defense was still good. I mean, look how many runners we threw out. Even with the miscues, we came back and never gave up.’
Horton struck out 11 for her 21st win of the season.