Sterling upsets Geneseo in regionals

Amy Boldt
Brooke Nienhaus fires the pitch past the Rock Island batter May 27 during IHSA regional action at Bollen Field.

The Lady Leafs’ season came to an early end this past week as Sterling ousted Geneseo from the playoffs in the regional championship. Geneseo reached the championship game by defeating Rock Island earlier in the week.

Geneseo vs. Sterling

It was just one of those days for the Lady Leafs that teams hate to have, especially in the playoffs, where the ball just doesn’t fall your way. The end result was unfortunate for Geneseo as Sterling defeated the Lady Leafs 4-1 in the regional championship May 30 in Geneseo.

“The difference maker was for some reason when we hit the ball we hit it at somebody,” said head coach Bob Pettit. “We had a hard time getting something going. It was just one of those days.”

Sterling scored the first run of the game in the top of the first with a home run to put them up 1-0.

The Golden Warriors managed to belt out another home run in the top of the third to give them the 2-0 advantage.

Geneseo continued to try and chip away at Sterling’s lead, but the ball kept finding the Sterling glove, resulting in six scoreless innings for the Lady Leafs.

“I don’t think the girls lost any drive (when they were down),” said Pettit. “They never quit, battled hard and stayed focused. Sometimes the ball just doesn’t fall in the holes. They played really hard and gave it everything they had. Sterling had nothing to lose and played all out.”

In the top of the sixth, Sterling drove in another two runs to extend its lead to 4-0.

Geneseo finally got on the board in the bottom of the seventh, but couldn’t manage to push any more across the plate, falling 4-1.

“When we broke through there was a glimmer of hope and there was a close call at second base that could have went the other way and if it had we could have been in good shape,” said Pettit. “Everything seemed to end up in Sterling’s direction. I can’t fault anybody, it is just how it went. We have certainly had a lot more days go our way.”

The Lady Leafs combined for only three hits on the day with one apiece from Allison Wiese, Jenna Mickley and Lindsey Beighle, which included doubles by Wiese and Beighle.

Brooke Nienhaus received the loss for Geneseo, finishing the season at 22-6.

Geneseo vs. Rock Island

The Rock?Island Lady Rocks put a little bit of a scare in the Lady Leafs May 27 in round one of IHSA regional play, but the Lady Leafs surged back to prevail with a 6-5 victory to advance.

“Honestly, you have to be concerned when you are down five and we were very concerned,” said Pettit. “We decided let’s just chip away at this and get a few here and a few there. Then we got two in the first and four in the second and I was glad we got four because we didn’t score any after that. On that particular day, the balls did fall for us.”

In their first at bats the Rocks jumped out to a commanding 5-0 lead in the top of the first, giving the Lady Leafs a significant hole to dig themselves out of.

Geneseo began to chip away at Rock Island’s lead, driving in two runs in the bottom of the first for a 5-2 score.

The Lady Leaf defense was able to hold the Rocks in the second inning, while their offense belted out four runs to take control of the game 6-5.

“For some reason we went out tentative,” said Pettit. “We have a lot of experience in the playoffs, but we played a little nervous. Then after the first inning we played as solid as we can be and we made sure we held the lead.”

Both teams were held scoreless through the rest of the contest as Geneseo escaped with the 6-5 victory.

At the plate for Geneseo, Katie Lenz (1 RBI) led the team with two hits, including a double.

Nienhaus (1 RBI), Robin Schaefer (2 RBIs), Wiese (1 RBI), Annie Lenz and Mickley added the team’s other five hits, which included a double by Mickley and triples by Schaefer and Annie Lenz.

Geneseo combined for seven hits.

Nienhaus pitched the win to improve to 22-5.

The Lady Leafs finish the season 29-6-1 overall and 8-2 in the NCIC for first place.

“We judge the season on how much character we build and our teamwork,” said Pettit. “I worked with a tremendous group of young ladies and it is still a great feeling having worked with them throughout the season. I couldn’t ask for a better group to work with. They all gained some things no matter what their role was and treated each other well. I feel good about the people they are and the growth they had during the season. And that is the part I really appreciate.”

Jenna Mickley crushes a shot into the outfield to move the runners May 27 in regional action against Rock Island.