The Geneseo varsity softball team had to battle from behind to earn its regional title this past week with wins over UT and Rock Island.
Geneseo vs. UT
The Lady Leafs found themselves in an early 6-0 hole to UT in the regional title game May 26, but the girls did what they have been doing all year and clawed their way back to nab the regional title with a 9-7 victory.
“They seem to like to play under pressure,” said head coach Bob Pettit. “They seem to enjoy that.”
UT jumped out ahead 6-0 in the bottom of the first, while Geneseo got on the board with one run in the top of the second for a 6-1 score.
“Emily Zaderaka wasn’t doing anything wrong it was just that UT’s hits were finding the holes,” said Pettit. “Our hits wouldn’t fall and then they started to in the fifth inning.?It wasn’t that we did much wrong, but things just went UT’s way.
“Once you are down 6-0 it is a battle and you have to really dig down inside at battle every pitch. We did a good job of stopping them expecially Jena Reddig who battled to get the outs.”
Both squads posted runs in the fourth for a 7-2 score in favor of the Panthers.
In the fifth, the Lady Leafs’ bats came alive as the girls pushed seven runs across the plate to take the 9-7 lead, which was highlighted by a home run blast by Kassi Anderson.
UT attempted to counter a response to Geneseo’s fifth-inning surge, but were held scoreless though the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
“We got a run and then plugged away and got another, but then Kassi led off the fifth with a home run and our hits started falling,” said Pettit. “Momentum is a good thing to have if you are on the right side and we were fortunate we had enough to hang on.”
Jena Reddig pitched the win for the Lady Leafs as she allowed seven hits, one run and struck out two in six innings, while Zaderaka allowed six hits, six runs and struck out one to start the game.
“The game was never out of reach until that last out was made because UT had two runners on in the sixth, but Jena, who pitched a whale of a game, got her third out in the sixth,” said Pettit. “UT had the tieing runs on second and third with their cleanup hitter at the plate, but Jena got her to swing at a bad pitch.”
Leading the way for the offense was Olivia Goethals (4 RBIs) with three hits, including two doubles.
Page 2 of 2 - Taylor Wise (1 RBI), Darian Gillette (1 RBI) and Haley Cathcart added two hits apiece with a double from Wise and Gillette and two doubles from Cathcart.
Zaderaka (1 RBI) and Karissa Herrman rounded out the effort both with one hit and Zaderaka stretched out a double.
“It is one and done and you are battling for your life, but not matter the circumstances these girls won’t give up,” said Pettit. “They chose the motto at the beginning of the year of ‘Never Back Down’ and they don’t. They find a way to come back and beat those good teams.”
Geneseo vs.?Rock Island
Down 3-1 after four innings, the Lady Leafs rallied in the sixth to steal the win from Rock Island, 8-3 May 23 in the Rock Island Regional.
After two scoreless innings, Rock Island scored the first run of the game in the top of the third, but Geneseo quickly countered with one run in the bottom of the frame for the 1-1 tie.
The Rocks plated two more runs in the top of the fourth to take the 3-1 lead and managed to held the Lady Leafs scoreless through the next two innings.
“The girls know from the defensive side that they just need to keep the game close then the bats will come through,” said Pettit. “They need to focus on one pitch at a time, find a way to have a good at bat, get on base and move the runners, which will eventually calculate into runs.”
Geneseo did not go away and surged a comeback in the bottom of the sixth as the Lady Leafs drove in seven runs, which was highlighted by a two-run home run shot by Jessica Murray to take control of the game, 8-3.
The Lady Leafs held off the Rocks in the seventh to earn the victory.
Reddig received the win for Geneseo as she pitched three innings and allowed three hits, no runs and struck out one. Zaderaka started the game and pitched four innings and allowed eight hits, three runs and struck out two.
At the plate, Murray (2 RBIs), Goethals, Wise (1 RBI) and Herrman (1 RBI) led the team with two hits apiece, including a home run from Murray and a double from Herrman.
Zaderaka, Anderson (1 RBI), Gillette and Cathcart (2 RBIs) chipped in one hit each with a double from Anderson, while Reddig finished the game with an RBI.
The Lady Leafs (26-10 overall and 7-3?in the NIB 12) took on Limestone May 31 in the UT Sectional and with a win the girls will play for the sectional title at 11 a.m. June 2.