Scoring twice in the top of the first inning, Trinity Lutheran’s softball team hoped to keep the offense rolling the remainder of the game.
Orleans freshman pitcher Sydney Owens and her teammates, however, did what they could to stop it.
Bulldogs junior Ashton Padgett hit a solo home run in the bottom of the second inning, and Orleans came up with clutch hits in the sixth inning to take a 3-2 lead.
Then in the top of the seventh inning, Owens gave up a one-out single, but her defense backed her up on the next two plays to pull off the Class A Sectional 61 title with a 3-2 win Tuesday night at West Washington High School.
Owens was sharp in the circle, striking out nine, allowing only four hits and not walking any.
“We executed the first inning very well, did what we normally like to come out and try to do. We just weren’t able to repeat it,” Cougars coach Chad Goecker said. “They just outplayed us. They’ve got a great pitcher, and we just weren’t able to adjust to their pitcher. We have to make adjustments, and we weren’t able to adjust.”
Trinity’s leadoff batter, sophomore Savannah Harweger, started the game with an infield popup in front of home plate that dropped for a hit. After Harweger stole a base, junior Jodi Goecker brought her across the plate with a single past the shortstop.
Goecker then stole around to third base before freshman Jaryn Holtsclaw sent her home with a sacrifice bunt to make it 2-0.
Owens, however, struck out the next two batters.
With one out in the bottom of the second, Padgett swung at a high pitch and sent it over the fence in right field to cut Orleans’ deficit in half. Trinity junior pitcher Hannah Deaton then registered back-to-back strikeouts.
The pitchers then combined to only give up three hits and strike out seven over the next three innings.
Owens knocked the ball to the center-field fence in the bottom of the sixth inning for a double with one out, and Trinity senior Taylor Russell hit the fence hard trying to make a catch, forcing action to stop for about 10 minutes until she could be carted off of the field.
When play resumed, Trinity sophomore Maddie Bell caught a fly ball in left field for the second out.
That’s when Padgett and freshman catcher Hannah Shaw came up with back-to-back RBI doubles to make it a 3-2 game.
Junior Morgan Gabbard then replaced Deaton in the circle, and she registered a strikeout to send the game into the seventh inning.
Gabbard hit a one-out single, but the next batter hit into a fielder’s choice, and Shaw caught a popup behind the plate to end the game.
Orleans (12-7) advances to play the winner of Sectional 62 on the road Tuesday, while Trinity finished the season with a 13-6 record.
Deaton finished with eight strikeouts and one walk, and she gave up Orleans’ six hits and three runs.
The Cougars’ seniors are Russell, Amanda Wright and Kristin Hoene.
Along with Russell giving a great effort to try and make the catch in the sixth inning, Wright collected herself when a ball was hit to her at first base and she had to dive to make the out in the fifth inning.
“You’ve got to love the effort that they did give,” coach Goecker said. “(In Monday’s semifinal game), Taylor laid out for a ball. She wasn’t able to get it, but that’s the kind of effort you like to see. You’re happy to see girls try to make plays like that, and hopefully, Taylor’s going to be all right.
“Kirstin has been with us here for four years. She has been a great leader, just a tremendous individual,” he said. “Amanda, she has worked hard, and we appreciate all that she has done for us this year, as well.”