PRINCETON — Finish is a simple word. The Princeton Tigresses just haven’t been able to verbalize it on the softball field.
The Tigresses and ace pitcher Madison Menzel sailed through the first six innings with a 3-0 lead over Orion Thursday at Little Siberia. Then the floodgates opened for the Chargers.
Orion opened the seventh inning with a pair of hits and by the time they were done, used five hits, two walks and a PHS error to plate five runs to escape with a 5-3 win.
“(We had a) 3-0 lead and playing pretty well defensively and every aspect of the game. There were a couple things offensively we didn’t take advantage of, a couple opportunities. Unfortunately, that’s who we are, and we find ways of keeping things close,” Bob James. “It was a tough one to lose with a 3-0 lead ... We’ve been doing that. The sixth inning was a problem a week and half ago. Tonight it was the seventh. Didn’t get over the hump.
“Keep telling the kids they’ve got to persevere, (got to have) character check, heart check. Just some how or another we got to work through it to get where we want to go come regional time.”
Menzel limited Orion to two hits through six innings while striking out 11 batters. It all changed quickly in the seventh.
The first batter doubled and the next hit a RBI single. Catcher Abby Jaques snagged a foul pop up, two Orion batters walked to load the bases. Menzel fanned the next batter, but was unable to cleanly field a comeback. She looked to home and got no one with a run scoring to make it 3-2.
Orion’s Ann Smolenski put a charge into a bases-clearing double to give Orion its first lead of the game at 5-3.
Alisa Holmbeck got a two-out single in the bottom of the seventh, but Jaques popped up to end the game.
PHS used some ball to set up its first run in the third. Sophomore Mady Cain beat out a bunt hit in her first varsity at-bat moved up two bases on sac bunts by classmate Jaimee Ciesielski and junior Danielle Hughes. Holmbeck ripped a two-out double to put PHS on the board.
Ciesielski beat out an infield hit to lead off the fifth and scored on a double by Hughes.
In the sixth, Mollie Bates and Elizabeth Hendrix singled ahead of a RBI double by Cain, deep to left, to make it 3-0.
Holmbeck, Cain and Julia Bauer each had two hits for the Tigresses (6-13, 2-4), who traveled to Bureau Valley Friday.
“We had some kids do some nice things, but we have kids trying to do too much. Trying to win the game with one at-bat. (When you do that) it’s usually a weak hit they’re going to defend and we’re having that issue. We can’t put anything together, just scuffling along,” James said.
• Tiger tales: The PHS F/S finished strong in the nightcap, scoring five runs in the fourth inning to close within 11-9 before the game was called on account of darkness. Lexee Camp had her second two-run double of the game and Hailey Schultz hit an inside the park homer, hot on the trail of catcher Rachel Jensen ahead of her. ... The PHS varsity will welcome both Seneca and Fieldcrest to Little Siberia at 10 a.m. Saturday for a round-robin with time limits. The PHS F/S is scheduled to play two at Seneca.
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