ROXANA – Hannah Rexford makes it clear that the Roxana High School softball team refuses to quit, even when the Shells encounter a tough spot.
“Our team has never given up,” said Rexford, the Shells’ freshman pitcher. “We are all so positive.”
The Shells had those positive vibrations flowing in the seventh inning Monday. They scored three times in the bottom of the seventh to stun Southwestern, 3-2, in the play-in game of the Class 2A Roxana Regional.
“We really wanted to win this game,” Rexford said.
Roxana did in dramatic fashion. Freshman Lindsey Scroggins supplied a run-scoring single to right field to cap an unlikely comeback and pushed 17-16 Roxana into the regional semifinals. The Shells meet top-rated Dupo at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. East Alton-Wood River and Staunton then clash at 7 p.m. in the second semifinal. The Piasa Birds closed with an 8-17 record, including three losses to the Shells.
“I was just looking to get a good pitch to hit,” Scroggins said of her game-winner. “It’s my first walk-off hit and it really feels good.”
Coach Mike Abruthnot said the Shells relished one of their most gratifying victories of the season. Streaking Roxana has won six in succession.
“We’ve had some nice wins, including one against Marquette,” he said. “This was a good one because it was one of those you have to win or go home. It’s nice to see the kids not give up and win it.”
Southwestern pitcher Bailee Stahl carried a 2-0 lead – and one-hitter – into the seventh. Then the Shells went to work.
Abby Palen drew a leadoff walk and Cindy Scroggins reached base on an infield error. One out later, Shelby Jackson singled home a run and an outfield error enabled Scroggins to score the tying run.
Sam Sherer extended the fun with a single and then Lindsey Scroggins got the decisive single.
“It felt like a winning hit,” Lindsey Scroggins, savoring the moment.
Hannah Rexford struck out 12 and allowed three hits in logging the win. She improved to 14-8.
The Piasa Birds, meanwhile, absorbed a heartaching defeat.
“Arb must go to church more than I do,” quipped Southwestern coach Peg Mitchell. “It hurt us in the seventh that we got squeezed (by the plate umpire) on some pitches and that we didn’t make the plays in the field.”
Mitchell added, “When the pressure is on you, then you have to make the plays. Roxana put the ball in play and they made the plays.”
For six innings, the Piasa Birds made enough plays. They took advantage of two Roxana errors to score an unearned run in the third. Reagan Rinacke’s single also figured in that inning.
Then Rachel Baldwin blasted a run-scoring triple in the sixth to give Stahl a two-run lead. Yet, an inning later, Roxana found a way to reverse things.
“Everybody remembers the end of the game,” Mitchell said, “but we only put two runs on the board. We should have had more runs. And Bailee threw strikes. We just didn’t field the ball when we needed to do it.”
Rexford said the Shells finally figured out a way to solve Stahl at the right time.
“Our timing was off and we had to adjust,” she said. “This is one of our biggest wins of the season and we feel confident about the rest of the regional.”
Arbuthnot said, “Hannah was very poised out there and we made adjustments hitting in the seventh inning. We weren’t getting ourselves out like we did earlier in the game when Stahl was moving the ball up and down.”
So can the Shells ride the momentum of their latest victory deep into their regional?
“When you come back from being down 2-0 and win it like we did today, good things can happen,” Arbuthnot said. “Sometimes a team will get hot and win it.”
CLASS 2A ROXANA REGIONAL
ROXANA 3, SOUTHWESTERN 2
Southwestern 001 001 0 – 2 3 3
Roxana 000 000 3 – 3 4 2
Southwestern (8-17) – Ringhausen 1-3, Baldwin 1-3 3B RBI, Rinacke 1-3. LP – Stahl IP-6.1 H-4 R-3 ER-2 BB-1 K-2
Roxana (17-16) – E. Rexford 1-3, Jackson 1-3 RBI, Sherer 1-3, L. Scroggins 1-3 RBI. WP – H. Rexford IP-7 H-3 R-2 ER-1 BB-2 K-12