With her softball team trailing Colonel Richardson by a run on Friday in the 1A East Region Semifinals, Mardela’s Kasey Goshorn stepped up to the plate in the top of the seventh inning.
Sydney Goertzen stood on second base with two outs. Colonels’ pitcher Gabby Galante unloaded a ball to the plate and Goshorn floated it to right field.
Had the Colonels’ right fielder Jayna Turner dropped it, the Warriors would have likely scored a run. But on her birthday, Turner — falling over — corralled the ball in her glove and clinched the win for the Colonels, 2-1 over the Mardela Warriors.
“At first — and you can ask the coaches — I thought it was going over (Turner’s) head,” Colonels’ skipper Brett Ireland said. “I really did. I said, ‘It’s over.’ But Jayna made a good play.
“We didn’t make all the plays today, but we made enough plays, especially when they counted.”
As the Colonels embraced Turner and cheered, Goshorn and Goertzen met their coaches and teammates in the dugout.
“It’s hard to look at the season after a game like today,” Warriors’ head coach Kory Shiles said. “We just didn’t play well — bottom line. We didn’t hit with runners in scoring position, we made too many mistakes defensively and it cost us. We had two unearned runs and that was the difference in the ball game.”
The Warriors started fast by scoring a run in the first inning when Kalie Adkins notched an RBI single to score Kristina Shank. But just before that, a mistake may have cost them another run.
“I didn’t help matters by getting (Goertzen) thrown out at the plate there, caught in the run down,” Shiles said. “We lost momentum there, but still snuck one in. You got to tip your hat to (the Colonels). They painted the outside corner and our girls didn’t adjust very well at times.”
As the game wore on, the Warriors couldn’t find a way to score like they had in the first inning. Between the third and fifth innings, they left three runners on base.
Meanwhile, the Colonels tied things up in the third inning when an error allowed Morgan Willoughby to reach base and two singles by the next pair of batters knocked her in. The Colonels broke the tie an inning later when Camryn Plugge notched a single and a pair of throwing errors — an E8 and an E5 — allowed her to score.
Mardela was in position to respond in the top of the sixth inning and had two runners on with no outs. But two back-to-back fielder’s choice balls allowed the Colonels to get the lead runner out twice. A groundout to second ended the inning with the Warriors leaving a pair of runners on.
By the seventh inning, Galante had settled in on the mound and hadn’t given up a run since the first inning and after her catcher calmed her down.
“Our senior — Emily Cox — she huddled us around and she gave us the little pep talk that we needed and that helped us,” Galante said. “We want to win and we want to go to states for her.”
After walking the first batter, she struck out the next and then forced Shank to fly out to right field. When one of Mardela’s best hitters in Goshorn stepped up next, Galante knew her defense had her covered.
“I was just thinking, let her get a hit, because I knew my defense had my back,” Galante said. “I had faith in Jayna. I knew she was going to catch it.”
Tears fell on both sides. The Colonels’ cries were of celebration, while the Warriors’ were of disappointment after their championship hopes had been dashed.
“You invest so much working from summer to fall, winter to spring,” Shiles said. “To see it end like this is pretty disheartening to be honest.”