PERU — Princeton pitcher Madison Menzel wrangled her way out of trouble in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, keeping Princeton in contention of Wednesday’s Class 2A regional semifinal vs. Mendota at St. Bede. Even Houdini could only escape his traps so many times.
Mendota pitcher Ashlyn Kennedy singled to lead off the bottom of the 10th and scored one out later on a game-winning hit by teammate Mary Wackerlin. After a quick review of the scorebooks over a courtesy runner entry earlier in the game for Wackerlin, the Mendota catcher, Mendota walked off with a come-from-behind, extra-inning 5-4 victory.
“The kids battled and never gave up,” PHS coach Bob James said. “We had some missed opportunities we didn’t take advantage of. Same thing by them, good hard fought game. Missed opportunities both ways.
“We got out of some jams, I was proud of them for that. We adjusted our defense and got out of those situations on some good pitches and some good defense. In the end, it didn’t work out that way.”
Menzel, the southpaw slinging freshman, was rolling early in the game, riding a 3-0 lead and a no-hitter through four innings.
PHS scored in the top of the second when Makenzey Wilson singled and took second on a wild pitch before scoring on a base hit by Mollie Bates.
One swing of the bat by sophomore Abby Jaques made it 2-0 with a long blast over the left field fence, her fourth round-tripper in three games.
Sydney Hall was hit by a pitch with one out in the fifth and a pair of fielder’s choice brought in courtesy runner Jaimee Cieslieski after an adventurous run around the bases.
Menzel retired 11 straight batters leading into the home half of the fifth. She walked the leadoff batter, who was followed by a bunt hit by Mallory Defore and a walk to Haley Walters to load the bases. Brooke Carroll ripped a two-run double that got past right fielder Alisa Holmbeck to make it 3-2
Kennedy’s comebacker brought home Carroll with the tying run with Menzel recording the out at first. An errant pickoff throw to third by Jaques brought Carroll in with the go-ahead run for a 4-3 Mendota lead.
Princeton was down to its last out in the top of the seventh, but Jaques kept the Tigresses alive with a base hit. She took second on a wild pitch and scored the tying run on Kat Pranka’s double to left.
PHS got two on with one out in the ninth on base hits by James and Danielle Hughes. Jaques (3-5) followed with a smash to left field, which proved to be hit too hard to allow James to score from second. Kennedy got Wilson on a pop up to third and Pranka on a flyout to right end the threat.
With the loss, James had to say good-bye to his four seniors, including his daughter, Heidi, Wilson, Hall and Pranka.
“That’s tough. It will be worse when we get home probably,” said James, who shared a hug with his daughter in the dugout. “That’s tough. Makes me choke up, just for the passion of the game and everything. All four seniors gave their heart and soul, so that’s tough for them.”
Notes: The host and top-seed St. Bede Lady Bruins await Mendota (11-12) in Saturday’s regional title game at 11 a.m. at the Academy diamond. St. Bede coach Bill Prokup and staff joked that ace pitcher Lainie Schweickert will be in the circle even if they have to take her out there in a wheelchair. St. Bede moved into the finals with a 7-1 win over Somonauk on Tuesday. The regional champ advances to the Oregon Sectional on Tuesday.
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