BETHALTO – They uncharacteristically hastened their own downfall Friday afternoon.
The Marquette Catholic High Explorers committed four errors and bowed to Highland, 5-2, in the championship game of the Class 3A Civic Memorial Softball Regional.
While the 22-9 Bulldogs advanced to the Mascoutah Sectional and play Carbondale on Tuesday, the Explorers concluded their season with a 22-14 mark.
“We made a lot of small mistakes, but it wasn’t from a lack of effort,” Marquette coach Dan Wiedman said. “The kids put everything we had in this game. We just didn’t play a top-notch game like we did against Triad in the regional semifinals."
Highland scored four unearned runs against tough-luck losing pitcher Meghan Schorman. The Bulldogs survived a pivotal fifth inning and then used Peyton Holzinger’s two-run double in the sixth to snare a 4-2 lead.
“Peyton really smoked that ball on the first pitch,” Highland coach Brittne Zobrist said of Holzinger’s double to right field. The Bulldogs added a run in the sixth and the Explorers couldn’t catch them. Both teams had seven hits. The difference was that Highland didn’t make an error.
Zorbist added, “We have a good defensive club and it showed today. We also got good execution from our offense and we had some good pitching.”
Reliever Addison Rinderer worked the final 2.2 innings to get the win and help top-seeded Highland secure its second successive regional title. Starter Kirsten Plocher allowed six hits and two runs in 4.1 innings.
“Our pitching isn’t about getting strikeouts,” Zobrist said. “It’s about playing good defense.”
Schorman’s RBI single enabled Marquette to tie things at 1-1 after Highland scored in the second. The Bulldogs carried a 2-1 advantage into the fifth when the Explorers threatened to take the lead.
Kalie Buecker doubled in a run to knot it at 2-2. Grace Frost, who singled before the Buecker’s double, was at third base with one out and Megan Wittich at the plate when Wittich hit what looked like a sacrifice fly to right field.
However, instead of the Explorers leading 3-2, the fly ball out turned into a double play. The umpires ruled Frost left third base too soon and the Bulldogs turned it into an inning-ending twin killing.
“That was definitely a momentum swinger,” Zobrist said.
Wiedman said, “The umps made the right call. We could have gone ahead, but we also had other opportunities to win the game.”
Frost, a freshman catcher, went 3-for-4 to spark the Marquette attack. Shortstop Emma Taylor was 2-for-2 and reached base three times. Schorman struck out seven and walked none in permitting one earned run in the fifth.
“Meghan pitched well,” Wiedman said. “We had some things go against us, like a bunt single where our infielder fell down. There were a lot of little things in the game that made a difference.
“It’s not always the great plays that decide the game.”
The third-seeded Explorers never led and they stranded nine runners, including leaving the bases loaded in the third. They also stranded two runs in both the second and sixth innings.
“We had a lot of opportunities and I felt confident with our lineup,” Wiedman said. “Give Highland credit for the way they played.”
Wiedman lauded the Explorers for the way they played throughout the spring.
“We won 22 games, the Prairie State Conference title and make it to the regional championship game," he said. "We gave everything we had this season and I’m proud of the kids. We have a lot of good, young kids, so there’s a strong nucleus for next season. Our pitcher and catcher come back, along with pretty much our entire infield.”
He noted, “But we will miss our seniors. They really worked hard this season and they gave us tremendous leadership.”
CLASS 3A CM REGIONAL
HIGHLAND 5, MARQUETTE 2
Marquette 001 010 0 – 2 7 4
Highland 010 121 X – 5 7 0
Marquette (22-14) – Meghan Schorman 1-4 RBI, Grace Frost 3-4, Kalie Buecker 1-3 2B RBI, Emma Taylor 2-2. LP – Schorman IP-6 H-7 R-5 ER-1 BB-0 K-7
Highland (22-9) – Aubrey Hacke 3-4 2B, Peyton Holzinger 1-3 2B RBI-2, Hannah Meiner 1-4, Reily Kassay 1-3, Gabi Berolatti 1-1 RBI, WP – Addison Rinderer IP-2.2 H-1 R-0 BB-1 K-1; Kirsten Plocher IP-4.1 H-6 R-2 ER-2 BB-2 K-4