When Riverside-Brookfield softball coach Dan Hull said the field of talent would be tight at the Morton Class AA Sectional, nobody could have guessed how right he would be.
Both semifinals as well as the final at Morton went into extra innings and all were decided by one run.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, a mistake left them on the losing end of a 2-1 sectional semifinal with Lyons Township on June 1. That game lasted nine innings and ended when the Lions scored an unearned run in the top of the ninth inning before holding on for the win.
“The teams were very even and the competition was exceptional,” Hull said. “It turned out that one play made the difference for us.”
LT took the game’s first lead in the fourth inning when Jacqueline Vitale led off with a single and later came around to score on a groundout.
The Bulldogs answered back in the sixth when Megan Hutchens started things for RB with a leadoff double. She advanced to third on a fly ball to center field before LT’s second baseman made a two-out error on a Gina Mayer grounder. The miscue allowed Hutchens to score and tie the game.
But Vitale would hurt the Bulldogs again in the ninth with a leadoff walk. After moving to second on a groundout and to third on a passed ball, the Lions tried to bunt her home. The squeeze worked when an RB throw to the plate went over the catcher’s head.
“We got to the bunt but hesitated a little,” Hull said. “We didn’t get a throw off until the last second and it sailed high. That let them get an unearned run, and in a tight game like that it was huge.”
Sam Maas (19-6) pitched all nine innings for RB and gave up only four hits. The Bulldogs had only three hits with Hutchens, Maggie McCloskey and April Hutchens each collecting one.
This year is now the third consecutive season RB has been eliminated by LT. The Bulldogs lost in sectionals 2-1 and 3-0 in 2003 and 2004, respectively.
RB finishes the season with a 26-8 record after winning its fourth straight regional title. Despite the fact that the Bulldogs are still looking for a sectional title, Hull thinks this year’s squad has had plenty of successes on which to hang its hat, including going the whole season without being shutout?”which the coach believes was a testament to a great leadoff hitter in Stephanie Madsen and a balanced lineup.
“Compared to the preseason expectations, we accomplished a lot in my mind,” Hull said. “Not many people expected us to win many games with our competitive schedule. But we played well and I think we have a lot to look forward to next year.”
LT’s season came to an end Saturday with a 3-2 11-inning loss to Queen of Peace (25-11) in the Morton Sectional final.
Therese Boruta pitched the Pride past the Lions by scattering nine LT hits over 11 innings. Neither of the Lions’ runs were earned.
Allison Gage took the loss for LT in relief after allowing a run in the bottom of the 11th after 3-plus innings of work. Amy Horn had two hits for the Lions and Vitale added an RBI double and a run scored.
Queen of Peace advanced to the sectional final after a 2-1 win in eight innings on Thursday against host Morton.