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Daly double delivers final 4

Daly double delivers final 4
Daly double delivers final 4
LanesvilleÂ’s Brooklynn Keinsley circles around home plate with her arms raised to the sky after scoring the game-winning run Monday against Indianapolis Lutheran in the Class A North Daviess Semi-state semi-final. The senior scored on Erica DalyÂ’s double to left center then greeted teammate Jessica DeWeese (12). Photo by Brian Smith (click for larger version)

Eighth-inning heroics sent Lanesville past Indianapolis Lutheran in Monday’s Class A North Daviess Semi-state semi-final.
Erica Daly’s line drive that split the left and center fielders in the bottom of the eighth inning scored the fleet of foot Brooklynn Keinsley from first base. With arms stretched well above her head when her right foot touched the heart of home plate, Keinsley’s teammates rushed to circle around the game-winning run.
The run gave the purple-and-black outfitted No. 12 Lady Eagles a 2-1 win in eight innings, putting the program in the final four for the first time since the 2006 season.
‘I was speechless,’ Daly said when she looked up to see Keinsley coast across the plate. ‘ … Words can’t describe how happy I am. I love my team. It’s the best group of girls to play with. This run is all for the seniors; we owe it to them.’
Lanesville coach Rusty Cecil said he had to pause before greeting his team after the frantic and glorious ending to the game.
‘I’m just proud as can be,’ he said. ‘I told the girls when I went to the huddle that it’s tough, tough just walking out there. I get emotional. They’re great and are gelling.’
In the eighth inning, Keinsley was able to get on base drawing a four-pitch walk. For the game, the senior reached base all four times, including a pair of singles.
With her on base, Cecil said he was ready for Daly to deliver the big moment. In her previous two plate appearances, Daly hit the ball on the nose but for outs.
This time, there was no doubt her hit would find grass. Early in the at-bat, she pulled the pitch to the left center-field gap, plating Keinsley.
‘I was praying the whole time,’ Daly said of the at-bat. ‘Every time I go up to bat, I pray and I was praying, ‘God, all we need is this one hit.’ It felt so effortless. It felt perfect. When I looked up to see (the ball) fly, I just knew (Keinsley) would make it (home).’
Daly is one of the batters Cecil and the coaching staff have a lot of confidence in.
‘Erica is a great hitter and leads the team in hitting,’ Cecil said. ‘I have confidence in her, and she delivered. I like to give our hitter a chance and she was going good into the at-bat.’
In the circle, Emma Zeller was on her game once again for the Lady Eagles. She racked up nine strikeouts in eight innings, scattering five hits and walking none.
‘Emma, can’t say enough about her,’ Cecil said. ‘She pitched a whale of a game. I wonder how many pitchers like Emma they’ve faced. They are a good hitting team from stats I saw, but Emma did great. I feel sorry for their girls but happy for ours.’
Both teams broke on to the scoreboard in the second inning. In the top half, Lutheran was able to bring lead-off hitter Leah Carter home after she started with a single.
With two outs, Delaney Arnold hit a double to the base of the left-field fence, scoring Carter. Zeller was able to escape the frame when Blakelee Steeb grounded out.
In the bottom of the frame, the Lady Eagles responded by quickly loading the bags. Keinsley reached on a right-field error then Daly reached on an error when the first baseman pulled her foot prematurely.
Jessica DeWeese then reached with a bunt that didn’t draw a throw to a base, loading them for Zeller. She hit a sharp ball to second baseman Morgan Keefer, and the lefty threw out Keinsley at the plate. Lanesville, however, was able to eventually cash in when Tara Borders smacked a ball the direction of Keefer, but her throw this time wasn’t quick enough to keep Daly from scoring.
The play knotted the game at 1.
Lutheran twirler Anna Pillippe kept the bases full before retiring the next two batters.
One of the keys to the second half of the season has been the defensive play, according to Cecil.
In the fourth, the first and third outs were made by outstanding plays from corner outfielders Anna Gronotte (left) and Borders (right). Both made plays on the run, including a tumbling snag by Border near the foul line.
‘They did awesome in the field,’ Daly said. ‘They hustled and made big catches. It’s those things right now which have gotten us to this point.’
First baseman Mackenzie Schmelz also had a highlight play in the seventh, recording the first out, crashing into the Lutheran dugout fence to catch a pop-up off Carter’s bat.
‘The last 6-1/2 years I’ve been here, we’ve been a team that can be error-plagued at times,’ Cecil said. ‘The last half this season, like this game, we haven’t made an error. We’re playing better defensive ball. And you have to play defensive ball to win games.’
Lanesville put two runners on in the sixth inning but weren’t able to score. Keinsley led off with the inning but was out when Daly hit into a fielder’s choice. Following a DeWeese sac bunt, Daly made it to third on a Zeller shallow single, but both were stranded.
Lutheran, ranked No. 9, had two-out singles in the final two innings but couldn’t score.
‘They just played the game,’ Cecil said. ‘I’m so proud. I asked the girls after the game, ‘How many of you thought this would happen?’ None of them. You never give up until the last out.’
The Lady Eagles advanced to the final four and faced No. 3 Tecumseh in the semi-state championship. In the second semi-final, Tecumseh used a come-from-behind effort to eliminate No. 2 Rising Sun, 5-4, in nine innings.