The Calvary softball team sat quietly underneath a tree near the Coca Cola supply truck with green eye glare slowly running the faces of most. The young Lady Cavs had just discovered that in the microcosm of the LHSAA Class 2A state playoffs, little mistakes are magnified.
The Calvary infield and outfield contributed an error apiece, allowing three Menard runs in the Lady Eagles’ 4-1 win that put a capper on the Lady Cavs’ season in the state semifinals.
“We had a couple of things that we didn’t execute properly, and at this level, it often comes down to who executes the best,” Calvary coach Tiffany Bruton said. “But I’m proud of this team. We’re young and we will be back.”
An overthrow from the outfield allowed two Menard runs to score in the fourth and a mishandled grounder in the seventh resulted in two more Lady Eagles crossing — and that was the game.
Unlike Friday’s quarterfinal contest when the Lady Cavs (25-6) started slow, they appeared to be in control early against the Lady Eagles (23-9). Taylor Hammock singled to open the second inning, but ended up getting thrown out at second on a botched squeeze play. Lizzy Lafisca reached on a Menard error and scored following consecutive singles by Jordan Fielder and Brianna Sample, along with another Menard mistake. But Calvary left the bases loaded in what ended up being their best scoring chance of the game.
That would come back to haunt them. Menard coach Erica Harwell stayed with starting pitcher Kayla Busby for one more inning before going to her ace, freshman Jensen Howell, in the fourth. Howell was dominant over the last four innings allowing no hits while striking out five.
“We knew they used two pitchers from the people we had talked to, but we had hoped to score more runs before they went to the second one,” Bruton said.
It was Busby’s double in the fourth that got the ball rolling against Calvary freshman Sarah Chamberlain, who allowed just five hits. Tara McVay reached on a throwing error and both players scored on a sacrifice fly when the throw to the plate went awry.
That 2-1 advantage would have been enough, but the Lady Eagles added two more in the top of the seventh. Madalyn Mahfouz walked and Maddie Smith followed with a bunt single. A sacrifice bunt moved them over and both scored when a grounder went off the glove of a Calvary infielder.
“We gave them a few runs,” Bruton said. “We would have liked to have played better.”