Mendota 2A softball regional: Princeton 4, Bureau Valley 3
PRINCETON — The Princeton Tigresses had not won a regional softball game in three years, and they found Monday to be a good time to hand rookie coach Brik Wedekind his very first.
The Tigresses beat rival Bureau Valley for the third time this season, turning a game-ending double play to beat the Storm 4-3 to advance to Tuesday’s semifinals against regional host Mendota.
“It means a lot. The program has struggled over the last few years,” Wedekind said. “To win as an eighth seed when everybody thinks you’re going to lose is always a good thing. It’s only positive going forward.”
Princeton (5-19) took a 4-2 lead into the seventh inning. Pinch hitter Lexi Ryan had a leadoff single ahead of Storm slugger Laura Phillips, who had already doubled off the fence and homered over it in earlier at-bats to stake the Storm to a 2-1 lead.
After a mound discussion, PHS pitcher Adrienne Snethen walked Phillips on four pitches, though two were close to being strikes.
“We didn’t intentionally walk her, but gave her nothing to hit,” Wedekind said.
Brianna Broers laid a bunt in front of the plate and Ryan beat catcher Lexi Alt’s throw to third on a bang-bang call. PHS’ Miranda Sorenson jumped to catch the high throw and was ruled to have come down on the bag too late to catch Ryan, who came into the bag standing up.
A fielder’s choice brought Ryan home to make it 4-3, sending Phillips to third. The next batter hit a soft pop to first baseman Erika Sorenson in front of the bag. She threw across the diamond to her big sister, to catch Phillips, who strayed too far off the bag and was slow to get back, ending the game.
“I don’t think she forgot the outs. I think she was coming down the line in case the first baseman misplayed it. I don’t know (whether) she didn’t expect the throw or just didn’t get back quick enough,” BV coach Brian Humphrey said.
Princeton got on the board in the third inning on Kenzie Coleman’s triple off the right-center field fence to score Katie Bauer, who walked, to tied the game at 1.
With some thunder rumbling in the background, Phillips provided the Storm some more thunder with a solo shot to straight-away center to give BV a 2-1 lead. Humphrey moved Phillips into the lead-off hole, looking to get her some pitches to hit rather than being pitched around, as she was later in the game.
“We moved Laura into the No. 1 spot, figuring they wouldn’t pitch to her,” Humphrey said. “She’s had phenomenal year all the way around. She’s somewhere near .600. For a right-handed hitter, that’s a heckuva year.”
Coleman sparked the Tigresses again, beating out a slow dribbler to third with two outs to score a run and keep the inning going. She scored on wild throw from third to first to put PHS up 3-2.
A blooper by shortstop Olivia Vergamini gave PHS a 4-2 lead after five.
The key for PHS was execution, Wedekind said.
“Just execute. There was times we executed, and there was times we didn’t execute. We took advantage of mistakes, and that was crucial,” he said.
Bureau Valley bows out at 1-17, but will return the core of its team with hopes for future success.
“Not the outcome we wanted, but I was pleased how we played overall,” Humphrey said. “We’ve been playing a lot better last couple weeks. Kenzie (Law) pitched a really nice ball game, and our defense, other than a couple plays in that fifth inning, was pretty good. We had some chances to score that we didn’t take advantage of.
“We’re losing three seniors and with everybody back, we’re hoping to make a step forward next year. I was just happy it was a competitive ballgame. They played well, their pitcher pitched well, and they have one more (game).”