After allowing two unearned runs in a rough first inning, the Riverside-Brookfield High School softball team could have wavered against defending IHSA Class 4A state champion Marist in the sectional semifinals May 31.

The Bulldogs instead nearly pulled off the upset.

Hannah Organ

Only a great catch ended the Bulldogs’ bases-loaded threat in the top of the sixth inning of their 3-1 loss.

“It was just nerves in the beginning but once we got rid of that, if we don’t have that first inning, we’re still playing. It’s 1-1,” RBHS senior pitcher Hannah Organ said. “You can’t be mad. Marist always puts up a great team and I’m really proud of our team because we fought hard.”

After Bulldogs (14-11) began the sixth with two outs, Emily Organ scored and Lianna Noel, Zoe Levine and Hannah Organ were on base with Ellie Megall batting.

Megall knocked a foul ball just past the first-base line near the edge of the infield dirt. Marist second baseman Sierra Sass dove with her body extended and caught the ball to end the threat.

Marist senior pitcher and Florida International recruit Brooke McNichols struck out the side in the seventh to finish with 10 strikeouts and a one-hitter – Julia Madera’s opposite-field single in the third.

“In that situation and that scenario when we had momentum, that was a great play,” RBHS coach Doug Schultz said of the catch that ended the sixth inning. “They’re one of the best teams in the state, if not the best, for a reason.”

Marist scored twice in the first with two hits followed by the Bulldogs’ two errors for the game. A single and one-out double in the sixth produced its third run.

RBHS exploited the RedHawks’ two errors in its sixth. Emily Organ walked and Noel reached on an error. When Levine grounded to shortstop, Organ eluded the tag and contributed to a hurried, wild throw past first, allowing Organ to score. Hannah Organ was intentionally walked.

“We all thought this was our moment,” Levine said. “It’s been a hard year for us. It’s really proved what we can do and I’m really proud of us.”

The Bulldogs graduate four seniors – Hannah Organ, starting right fielder Danika Apostolovich, starting first baseman Allie Krueger and Sydney Weinert. Also starting against Marist were juniors Noel, Madera and Luna Lloyd, sophomore two-year starters Emily Organ and Levine and freshman Megall.

“Next year we’ll know what’s coming and we’ll have a good fight against [Marist] and all other teams,” Noel said. “Coming back from the losses this year really boosted our confidence.”

After the postgame meeting, the Organ sisters embraced in short left field. A four-year varsity standout, Hannah Organ will play next season at Miami (Ohio).

“It was definitely a bittersweet moment for this being our last game. I wish we could have pulled out a win,” Emily Organ said. “We’ll definitely miss her but she’s done a lot for this program. A lot of people look up to her.”

“All four years, the atmosphere my coaches and teammates have facilitated throughout, it’s just always been nothing but positive and incredible. I’m going to miss the people the most,” Hannah Organ said.