Mustangs rally past SE Webster
Newell-Fonda came roaring back from a 3-0 deficit here Monday night, scoring five times in the bottom of the fourth inning and hanging on for a 5-3 win over second-ranked Southeast Webster in a Class 1A state tournament game.
The Mustangs escaped with the win despite making a season-high eight errors.
"That isn't like us," said N-F coach Dick Jungers after the game, which was played in 90 degree heat and high humidity.
"Some of it might have been the jitters. Hopefully, we got all of that bad stuff out of our system."
The Mustangs gained their 31st win of the season and advanced to the state semfinals.
Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. Newell-Fonda will play Alburnett for the right to play in Friday's state championship game.
After three and a half innings Monday night, however, the Mustangs were running out of time.
"Some of us were a little down at that point," said ace righthander Hanna Reis, who allowed two unearned runs in the top of the first and one in the top of the third.
"It was up to the rest of the team to pick us up. Finally, we put things together towards the middle of the game."
In the top of the first, SE Webster's Jen Jorgensen led off with a slap single to left, advanced to second on an errant throw and scored on an error. Cleanup hitter Kelsey Castenson reached on an infield error, and scored the inning's second run on a single by SEW sophomore Kari Stoneburner.
SE Webster rigthhander Angela Jorgensen retired the Mustangs in order in the bottom of the first, but gave up two hits to the Mustangs in the second without sustaining damage.
"It just took us a while to get used to the way their pitcher was throwing," Reis said.
SE Webster added another unearned run in the top of the third for a 3-0 lead.
Finally, in the bottom of the fourth, the Mustangs got going, and it was senior first baseman Amanda Hanson who ignited the spark.
Hanson laced a line single to right to lead off the inning.
"I just felt we had to start getting something going," Hanson said. "Usually when we get the first batter on in an inning on, we score at least one or two runs."
Michelle Grau sacrificed Hanson to second, then the Mustangs started hitting line drives.
Six of the next eight Newell-Fonda batters reached via hits, including five singles and a double by senior Sam Schaffer.
Eighth-grader Ellen Gruntorad drove Hanson in with a hard liner to left, then Schaffer hit her RBI-double.
Reis stepped to the plate and grounded a hard single up the middle to score Schaffer and tie the game at three.
Shortstop Kelly Johnson went down on strikes for the second out, then leadoff hitter Destiny Seivers lined a base hit to left for the fourth run.
Second baseman Tiffany Parker's RBI single made it 5-3 with yet another RBI single, and the Mustangs had the bases loaded before Jorgensen got out of the inning.
"We've had quite a few big innings this season," Jungers said. "We have kids throughout our lineup that make contact well. Tonight, we sort of exploded in the fifth inning, and that was nice to see."
SE Webster still made the large contingent of Newell-Fonda fans nervous over the last three innings.
In the top of the fifth, Castenson led off with a single, and was sacrificed to second by Racheal Stoneburner.
Kari Stoneburner then reached on an infield error as SE Webster had two on and one out. Reis stayed cool on a comebacker by Cindy Heun. She made a nice snag of the hard-hit ball, and had the presence of mind to look back the runner at third before throwing to first for the second out.
Johnson pitches, hits L-M past Murray
The Laurens-Marathon softball team got off to a racing start here Monday night in the Class 1A state softball tournament, and sophomore pitcher Bryn Johnson did the rest.
Charger speedster Jacqulyn Schmidt led off the bottom of the first by easily beating out a bunt, and after Kristi Brechler drew a walk, Johnson pounded a double to leftcenter to plate both runs for an early 2-0 lead. The Chargers added an insurance run in the sixth. and Johnson tossed a three-hit shut as the Chargers beat fourth-ranked Murray 3-0.
"We were ready to play right away," a happy Johnson said after the game. "We've been waiting for this for two years now; we made the most of it so far."
With the win, the Chargers advanced to the state semifinals. Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m., Laurens-Marathon will meet top-ranked Charter Oak-Ute, which dispatched Don Bosco Monday 5-1 in another 1A quarterfinal.
After giving up the two runs in the first, Murray righthander Marla Jackson settled down. Through the next four innings, the Chargers had only two baserunners.
"Getting an early lead was key for us," L-M coach James Laughlin said. "We also played some great defense behind Bryn. She was more or less the story for us offensively."
Johnson retired Murray in order in the first, then the Chargers jumped to their early lead in the bottom half.
"It's always easier to pitch when you score some runs early," she said. "Their pitcher was trying to work us inside and she used a riseball, which we haven't seen a lot of. But she threw a couple down the middle and I just tried to drive the ball somewhere."
Johnson, who finished with five strikeouts and walked just one, let her defense do most of the work.
She yielded a leadoff single in the second to Jackson, but got two strikeouts and a harmless pop-up to third to retire the side.
The hard-throwing sophomore set Murray down 1-2-3 in the third, and gave up a two-out hit in the fourth. She coaxed two groundouts and a pop-up in the fifth, but allowed a one-out hit to Murray leadoff hitter Krista Shields in the sixth before getting the next two batters to ground out.
"It was a tough day to pitch with the heat and humidity," Laughlin said. "Bryn struggled a bit at times, but got big outs when we needed them."
In the bottom of the sixth, Brechler grounded a leadoff single up the middle, then scored easily on Johnson's long double to rightcenter for a 3-0 lead.
In the top of the seventh, Jackson started the inning by reaching on an infield error. The next hitter, Jess Snyder, drew a walk, as Murray had runners on first and second with no one out.
Murray's Kelsey Robbins flew out to left for the first out, then Tiffany Jackson lined out to Schmidt at short. Schmidt alertly saw that Snyder had strayed off first, and threw back to Brechler at first.
The throw drew Brechler off the bag but the 5-foot-10 senior reached out to tag Snyder before she got back to the bag for a game-ending double play.
"It was a little nerve wracking in that last inning," Johnson said. "But the real key was our defense. It's been pretty good all season."