Holding on in the final innings, the Borgia softball Lady Knights made history Friday.
Borgia (18-6) edged second-seeded Union (18-8) to claim the Class 3 District 4 championship at home, 3-2.
“It’s very exciting and very happy to see all the girls’ hard work pay off for them and enjoy this moment,” Borgia Head Coach Andrew Eggert said.
“We never gave up,” Union Head Coach Tiffany Poggas said. “If there’s anything our team took away from the game it was to never quit. Overall, it was a really good game. We just fell on the wrong side of the score once again. Congratulations to Borgia and I wish them luck in their postseason run.”
For Borgia, it was the school’s fourth district title, but first since 1980.
To put it into perspective, it was well before any of the players were born or Head Coach Andrew Eggert arrived in the world.
“I wasn’t born yet,” Eggert said. “It’s fun to come out here and see the girls put together a championship like this.”
Borgia also won district titles in 1976 and 1978,
And Friday’s win over last year’s district champion Union was anything but easy. The teams played two scoreless innings before Borgia jumped on top with three runs in the bottom of the third.
“It was crazy to see that we got three runs,” Eggert said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be enough and they were going to keep going. We saw them come back against Pacific last night, so we knew they weren’t going to roll over and go away. We had to keep going.”
The teams had played to a 1-0 Borgia win earlier in the season, but even a bigger lead wasn’t safe.
Union, which reached the Class 3 quarterfinals last year, fought back. The Lady ’Cats scored once in the sixth and rallied in the seventh.
Union had runners on second and third when Kaylee Bunch singled to left field. Elisabeth Scharfenberg came in to score on the play. A second runner, Kyleah Stahlman, tried to make it home, but was tagged out short of the dish by catcher Beth Obermark.
“I saw the coach send her and I really didn’t know if she would go,” Obermark said. Dani (Kimminau) had the ball and I was calling ‘four.’ She threw it and I got the tag down. I didn’t think about it, I just did it. It was all muscle memory and naturally let things take over.”
Bunch made it to second base on the play. With two outs, she was off on contact as Georgie Bray hit a fly ball to deep center field.
However, MJ Maguire was able to track back and make the catch just short of the fence to seal the win.
“My heart was racing,” Maguire said. “We had our game last night where I dropped a ball with two outs in the seventh, so I wanted to make sure I got this one.”
Poggas credited her team for fighting until the final out.
“We didn’t quite reach our goal for the season but we played until the last inning,” Poggas said. “I was happy to see the girls fighting for the win instead of giving in when we were down 3-0. We had a lot of good things happen but just couldn’t get that last run across to tie it up.”
Borgia’s Lizzie Lynchard went the distance to earn the win. She used 71 pitches to go seven innings, allowing two runs on seven hits. She fanned three batters.
“I think it was just awesome that I have a team behind me I can trust and can back me up,” Lynchard said. “Even when I do get tired, they always have my back and I can trust them to make the plays when it is necessary.”
Kelsie Hardester pitched for Union, allowing three unearned runs on eight hits and one walk. She struck out seven and required 104 pitches to get through six innings.
“Kelsie was great in the circle again,” Poggas said. “She pitched well and her strikeout numbers were great. She managed their big hitters well. Our defense came up with great plays all game. Unfortunately, Borgia was able to capitalize on a few mistakes in the third inning. If you give a good team those chances, they’re going to take advantage.”
The game’s most successful batter was Elizabeth Smith. Borgia’s No. 9 batter recorded three hits, all singles.
Obermark had two hits, including a double.
Maguire, Lynchard, Dani Kimminau and Maria Bohle each singled.
Josie Lindemann drew Borgia’s walk. Smith also stole a base.
Maguire, Lindsey Molitor and Smith scored Borgia’s runs.
Obermark and Kimminau drove in runs.
For Union, Bray led the way with two hits, including a double.
Lauren Boyd also doubled while Scharfenberg, Victoria Suerig, Adrianna Trenholm and Bunch all singled.
Trenholm also sacrificed.
Bray and Scharfenberg scored the runs. Boyd and Bunch drove them home.
“Offensively, we had girls come through,” Poggas said. “Georgie Bray hit well. We moved her to the leadoff spot a couple of weeks into the season and she really took off with it. Hitting is contagious and she was a good person to have there. We hit the ball all game, we just hit right at people or miscued. Their defense came up big as well.”
Borgia stranded seven and Union left five on base. Union made the game’s two errors.