JERSEYVILLE – A wild and stunning finish to a regional softball play-in game Monday proved exhilarating for the Jersey Panthers and exasperating for the Civic Memorial Eagles.
The Panthers scored two runs on a strikeout with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to shock the Eagles, 7-6, in the opener of the Class 3A CM Regional.
Jersey, which improved to 17-13 and won for the 11th time in its last 13 games, meets 20-9 Highland at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Bethalto Sports Complex. It’s 21-13 Marquette Catholic facing 19-12 Triad in the second semifinal at the same site. CM closed its season at 7-20 with a heart-wrenching loss at the Jerseyville Post 492 Legion Field..
“I’ve never seen a game finish like that,” Jersey coach Julie Muenstermann said.
CM coach Mike Eddy noted, “Sometimes you don’t know why things happen, but they happen.”
The Eagles led 6-1 before the Panthers scored four times in the sixth to make a game of it. Then came the fateful seventh. With two outs, the Panthers had Maggie Collins on second base and Mackenize Thurston on third base. Peyton Tisdale, the next Jersey batter, faced a two-strike count.
Tisdale then swung and missed for strike three, but the pitch from Shelby Whaley bounced and hit the dirt before catcher Cassie Reed snared it.
Tisdale scampered to first base as teammate Mackenize Thurston, thinking about making a dash for home, caused Reed to throw to CM’s Susan Buchanan at third. Thurston then beat the return throw to Reed for the tying run. It was her third stolen base of the inning.
“Mackenzie makes things happen because of her speed,” coach Muenstermann said.
When Tisdale tried to go to second base, the Eagles threw the ball away and Collins scored from third base for the winning run.
“Never in my life have I seen anything like that,” Muenstermann said of the wacky chain of events. “But when you work hard and stay positive, good things will happen.”
Eddy said, “We didn’t play like we had the lead and we had a five-run lead on them. We had some easy plays and we didn’t make them. We just couldn’t finish the game.”
Chloe Jennings went 1-for-2 with a double and walked three times to stir the CM attack. Reed, a freshman, was 2-for-4. Katleyn Turbyfill drove in a run, stole two bases and made a couple of spectacular plays at shortstop. Both Kalyn Haar and Whaley supplied RBI singles in a two-run first.
Whaley, who absorbed the defeat, worked the final 3.2 innings after starter Ryan Allison pitched the first three innings.
“We had them (Panthers) on their heels, but we couldn’t finish it,” Eddy said. “We’ve lost some games in different ways through the years, but never like this.”
Libby Muenstermann of Jersey collected two hits and drove in a run to support winning pitcher Bethany Muenstermann. She allowed seven hits and survived eight walks and three errors. CM also made three errors.
“All season, we have come back at the end of games like we did today,” coach Muenstermann said. “The players don’t ever drops their heads, doubt themselves or give up.”
The Panthers’ 17 victories are one shy of the school record they established last season. Jersey has never won a regional championship.
CLASS 3A CM REGIONAL
JERSEY 7, CM 6
CM 200 031 0 – 6 7 3
Jersey 100 004 2 – 7 8 3
CM (7-20) – Chloe Jennings 1-2 2B, Cassie Albers 1-2, Katelyn Turbyfill 0-3 RBI, Shelby Whaley 1-4 RBI, Kalyn Haar 1-4 RBI, Cassie Reed 2-4, Isabella Roberts 1-2. LP – Whaley IP-4.2 H-5 R-6 ER-4 BB-3 K-3; Ryan Allison IP-3 H-3 R-1 ER-0 BB-0 K-0
Jersey (17-13) – Ellie Tonsor 1-4 RBI, Bethany Munestermann 1-3, Libby Muenstermann 2-4 RBI, Caitlyn Connell 1-3, Mackenzie Thurston 1-3, Maggie Collins 1-3 RBI, Peyton Tisdale 1-4 RBI. WP – B. Muenstermann IP-7 H-7 R-6 ER-3 BB-8 K-2