Comets’ flight cut short by Falcons
CONRAD — The Comets won a big battle, rallying for two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning after being held scoreless all night.
The Falcons, however, won the war.
Wayne Community scored two runs in the top of the eighth inning and finished off No. 5 BCLUW in the bottom half, eliminating the Comets 4-2 in Friday’s Class 1A Region 4 semifinal softball game at David Lee Field.
It was BCLUW’s first extra-inning game of the summer, and it nearly didn’t get that far.
Parker Scurr bounced a two-run single up the middle to plate a pair of pinch-runners with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, keeping the Comets from getting shut out for just the second time this season. Jaelyn Allen hit a one-out single and Madison Ubben walked on four pitches, and their replacements on the bases — Emma Hoover and Kenna Paxson — moved up on a passed ball before Scurr came through with her first hit in two weeks, a high-hopping ground ball up the middle that allowed both BCLUW runners to score without a play.
“I was super-proud of them, we could have been done in the seventh (inning) and honestly, when we scored those two runs I was like, ‘here we go. We’re in it, we’re going for it,'” said BCLUW head coach Megan Yantis. “But they have some good hitters and they took care of the ball when they needed to.”
The Comets (23-10) couldn’t finish off the Falcons, and Wayne made them pay in its very next at-bat.
Camryn Jacobsen, already with a long home run to her credit, battled BCLUW left-hander Bailey Ashton through a long sequence of pitches before taking one off the hand. Emily Jones then walked on four pitches before Maddy Wood blooped a single to right. Jacobsen stopped halfway down the third-base line, forcing Jones to retreat to second. As the Comets played on Jones, Jacobsen beat the return throw home to score the go-ahead run.
Allie Wik followed with a single to right, scoring Jones, and the Falcons (22-8) had regained the two-run advantage they had just ceded.
Wayne freshman Sterling Berndt retired the heart of BCLUW’s batting order in order with the help of a defense that played error-free behind her, advancing the Falcons into Monday’s regional finals.
“Obviously we’ve got to accept the loss, but they’re a good team,” said BCLUW senior Easton Swanson. “They had some really good hitters, so kudos to them.
“Like we said in the team circle: no matter our ranking, no matter what our record is, we’ve got to play this game. We’re beatable and they’re beatable.”
Wayne Community will host Melcher-Dallas (27-5) on Monday night in Corydon with a state tournament berth hanging in the balance. BCLUW, meanwhile, was left to remember the good times for a strong group of seven seniors playing their last game in black and yellow.
“It’s really tough,” said Yantis. “I’ve coached these guys since they were in fourth grade and of course I have a senior on this team (Swanson) and it makes it tough, it makes it personal, makes it maybe a little tougher than any other year.
“There’s no reason to hang our heads. We had an awesome season. I couldn’t be prouder of these girls and it was fun to coach them.”
The Falcons outhit the Comets, 8-6, and made fewer errors than their hosts, 0-1. The lone error in the game led to the first run, too, when Wayne No. 9 hitter Jayde Harvey reached safely before scoring thanks to back-to-back two-out singles by Raegan Tilley and Jacobsen. Tilley attempted to score behind Harvey on Jacobsen’s blooper to right after the ball slipped past BCLUW right fielder Kennedy Williams, but Williams threw home — to first baseman Cate Nason — who made a diving tag to get the final out.
Jacobsen made it 2-0 Falcons in the top of the sixth when she launched her sixth home run of the season to left field.
BCLUW couldn’t answer against Berndt, a freshman left-hander who induced a lot of weak contact. The Comets couldn’t even bunt her effectively, and that was the game-changer.
Berndt actually walked BCLUW leadoff hitter Kiersten Kruse to start the bottom of the first, and Olivia Hughes successfully sacrified her over all the way to third. Swanson’s ensuing grounder was gloved by Berndt, who fired home to Jacobsen in time to get Kruse in a close play.
Comet senior catcher Lili Wilson blooped a single to right field moments later.
“Yeah, in fact our rule is if it goes to the pitcher, you don’t go, and [Kruse] thought it was past her,” Yantis said. “[Kruse] is so quick, there’s no getting her back. She’s got to see it, I can’t make her stop. It was still a close play. If [Berndt] throws high, she’s in there.
“We definitely missed a few opportunities in the first or second innings and sometimes that’s the ballgame.”
The Comets got their leadoff hitter on base in four of the first five innings, in fact, and squandered all of them. Williams singled to start the second, and her pinch-runner Kaylee Grant only got as far as second base after a pair of bunts were popped up for outs.
Kruse started the third with a single, but BCLUW simply couldn’t connect with Berndt.
“We haven’t seen left-handed pitchers all year, so it was harder to put [the bunt] down,” said Swanson. “As soon as she saw we were bunting, she’d throw a rise and then we’d go for it and it went everywhere. None of us really just thought to move the ball, be ready for the rise.”
Six different Comets had singles: Kruse, Wilson, Williams, Allen, Ubben and Scurr. Ashton struck out seven and didn’t walk or hit a batter until there were two outs in the top of the eighth.
Jacobsen finished 2-for-3 with a home run and an RBI single to lead the Falcons. Wood and Wik had two hits apiece, and Jones had a double.
Wayne 4, BCLUW 2, 8 innings
WAYNE 001 001 02 — 4 8 0
BCLUW 000 000 20 — 2 6 1
Sterling Berndt and Camryn Jacobsen; Bailey Ashton and Lili Wilson. W–Berndt (20-7). L–Ashton (20-5). 2B–WAY: Emily Jones. HR–WAY: Jacobsen (6). LOB–WAY 6, BCLUW 6.