Going to the bottom of the fifth, things looked bleak for the Union softball Lady ’Cats Thursday in the Class 3 District 4 semifinals at Borgia.
Trailing third-seeded Pacific, 6-2, Union needed something special just to get back into the game.
Union got just that, scoring five times to take the lead and held on for the victory, 7-6.
By winning the slugfest, the second-seeded Lady ’Cats (17-7) survived to make Friday afternoon’s championship game against Borgia.
“This was the third time we played Pacific,” Union Head Coach Tiffany Poggas said. “We came out a little flat. I think we took it for granted after we beat them in the second game. We had to turn our game on a little bit. About the fourth inning, I pulled them together and told them we needed to focus. We weren’t playing ball like we normally do. We had to turn it on or we were going to lose. It was nice to see them come through.”
Overall, Pacific Head Coach Tonya Lewis was happy with the way her team played.
“We had one bad inning,” Lewis said. “Our goal this time was to prove to them that we weren’t 13 runs behind them like the last game. I think our girls did that and they’re happy with the way things went other than the fifth inning. We would like to have that inning back.”
It was a chain of events which led to Union’s five-run rally in the fifth inning, but Elisabeth Scharfenberg played the clutch role, belting the game-tying triple to right field and then scored the winning run on a pop-up which fell between two Pacific fielders.
“It’s a good feeling, especially after I was beating myself up the first two times I came up to bat,” Scharfenberg said. “It was an outside pitch and I was expecting an outside pitch.”
Lewis said Pacific gave Union extra chances.
“We made too many mistakes,” Lewis said. “That’s been the story of our whole season. We have mistakes and they compound into more mistakes. I had thought we were over that. We got into a couple of holes where I wish we could have had some stronger players”
The Lady Indians scored one in the top of the first, but Union scored twice in the bottom of the inning. Pacific blew the game open with a five-run second inning and the 6-2 score held up until the bottom of the fifth.
“I told them we had to pressure their defense and they would make mistakes,” Poggas said. “To see the bottom half of the lineup come through was huge.”
Even after the rally, Union’s lead wasn’t safe. Pacific put two runners on in the top of the seventh before Lauren Boyd fielded a hard grounder up the middle, stepped on second and fired to Sydney Eads at first to complete a game-ending double play.
“I felt real confident with the batters who were coming up,” Lewis said. “That was one thing I didn’t foresee. It was a nice ball up the middle and Boyd made a good play on it.”
Georgie Bray led the Union offense with three hits, including a double.
Boyd had two hits. Eads homered and Scharfenberg tripled. Kelsie Hardester and Kaylee Bunch singled.
Boyd added a walk. Bray and Eads were hit by pitches.
Bray and Eads each scored twice. Boyd, Jordan Williams and Scharfenberg scored once.
Eads drove in two. Hardester, Amanda Downing, Scharfenberg and Victoria Suerig each had one RBI.
Hardester pitched. Over seven innings, she allowed six runs (five earned) on 12 hits, three walks and a hit batter. She struck out three.
“Ballgames are won with pitching and defense,” Poggas said. “We had a few errors and made some bad reads, but most of them were early. In the last half of the game, we were pretty solid.”
Megan Meyers pitched for Pacific, allowing seven runs (five earned) on nine hits, one walk and two hit batters. She struck out two.
Lilly Prichard had three hits for Pacific, including a double.
Kaylie Kaufman posted two hits.
Madi Greco homered.
Adding one single each were Annie Mueller, Meyers, Grace Burrows, Amanda Daves, Kaylee Patton and Rachael Ray.
Mueller, Ray and Emma Smiley walked. Daves was hit by a pitch. Meyers stole a base.
Prichard scored twice. Mueller, Meyers, Greco and Ray each scored once.
Meyers drove in two. Prichard, Kaufman and Greco each had one RBI.
“We’ve got to refocus and come out on top,” Poggas said. “We are very comparable to Borgia. We’ve got to come out and hit. We’ve hit Lizzie Lynchard before and we’ve got to do it again. The team that hits the best will be the team that wins.”
Scharfenberg said Union has to play as a team to win.
“It’s going to take a lot of teamwork and a lot of confidence to beat Borgia,” she said. “If we have a good attitude and keep pushing ourselves, I feel we can stop them.”
Lewis said Pacific will come back, but has work in the offseason.
“We’re going to get some people more familiar with positions and move people around,” Lewis said. “We’re losing a huge amount of seniors this year and they’ve been a big asset to our program. We’re facing a rebuilding year next year. Hopefully, we’ll smooth out some of those spots.”