With a comeback to remember, Washington captured the championship of the Union Softball Tournament for the second straight season.
The Lady Jays (3-1) trailed Park Hills Central by scores of 7-0 after three innings and 9-5 after six innings Saturday in the championship game, but scored five runs in the top of the seventh inning and held on in the bottom half for a 10-9 victory.
“It was definitely a great effort. I’m proud of our team for never giving up. They knew the whole time we could come back and get the win,” said Washington Head Coach Phil King. “One of our goals for the season is to win all three tournaments we’re in. We’re off to a good start.”
Trailing 7-0 after three innings, the Lady Jays didn’t back down.
“I told the team in the top of the fourth inning that we were playing flat and it was time to pick it up. We didn’t want to lose 10-0 in the championship game. We had to play with more pride,” King said. “Their pitcher started to look tired. She was pitching all day in the heat. We knew we could score runs against her. The key was we had to hold their offense down for the rest of the game, which is what we did.”
The game was delayed for approximately 90 minutes due to a lightning delay, but that didn’t slow down Washington’s rally.
Katie Trigg had the game-tying hit in the top of the seventh inning to make the score 9-9.
Washington then won the game on a missed squeeze play.
With Trigg breaking from third base, the pitch was low and was missed by both the batter and the Park Hills Central catcher. The ball skipped to the backstop, allowing Trigg to score.
“It’s not how we drew it up, but we’ll take it,” King said.
King didn’t have the official stats from the tournament available.
Courtney Kedroski was the starting pitcher for Washington in the championship game in a no-decision.
Brooke Smith pitched the final five innings for the win.
“Brooke had a perfect seventh inning to nail down the win,” King said.
Park Hills Central scored one run in the bottom of the first inning and three in both the second and third. The Lady Rebels added two runs in the sixth.
The Lady Jays countered with three runs in the top of the fourth inning, two in the sixth and five in the seventh.
“They came out hitting and jumped to a 7-0 lead,” King said. “I knew we were still in it because our offense can put up runs. We started hitting the ball and scoring runs the second time through our lineup.”
Washington opened the tournament with a 12-0 win over Louisiana in five innings.
Kayla Pilgram tossed a one-hit shutout for the Lady Jays, allowing two walks.
“Kayla did a great job,” King said. “She made them put the ball in play and our defense made the plays.”
In the semifinals, the Lady Jays knocked off Warrenton, 10-8.
“It was a slugfest. The game was back-and-forth all the way,” King said. “Our girls continued to hit the ball and found a way to win the game.”
Kedroski pitched the first four innings and earned the win. Katie Irwin worked three innings in relief.
The Lady Jays received offensive contributions throughout its lineup in all three tournament games.
“To score 32 runs in three games says a lot about our offense and the kind of day we had at the plate,” King said. “Everyone up and down our lineup came up with hits and really contributed.”
King said the Lady Jays’ top two hitters in the lineup, Kaelie Smith and MC Landolt, set the table for the remainder of the lineup, which included Kedroski, Megan Freitag, Becca Daugherty, Elanna Osthoff, Lilli Mantle and Trigg.
“Kaelie did a great job getting on base. MC had two or three hits in every game. With her speed, she got a few bunts down and beat them out,” King said. “Courtney and Megan had a lot of big hits and drove in runs. The top four hitters in our lineup were on base all day. Becca, Elanna, Lilli and Katie also produced some big hits. It’s huge when the bottom of your lineup gets hits and gets on base.”
King was pleased with the way the Lady Jays bounded back from a season-opening loss to Eureka.
“We’re about where I expected us to be. It was an uphill battle against Eureka,” King said. “I knew we had a shot to win the Union Tournament. The field was the most balanced I’ve seen in quite a while. I don’t think there was one dominant team. Our defense made a few errors, but we buckled down and made the plays when we had to.”