The 2009 softball season ended for Morris Area Saturday, May 23 at the Section 3A tournament in Raymond. The Tigers end the season 13-11 overall.
The Tigers started the day with a loss to the eventual Section 3A champions, Wabasso. Then, in the loser's bracket, Morris Area fell to Red Rock Central/Westbrook-Walnut Grove in extra innings.
The Tigers had advanced in the winner's bracket with wins over Dawson-Boyd and MACCRAY on May 19.
The Tigers were bumped to the loser's bracket with a 7-2 loss to the 2008 Section 3A champions, Wabasso.
Wabasso took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a walk and two base hits.
"We knew they were going to play the short game," said coach Mary Holmberg. "Defensively, we did not execute. They were quick and took advantage of their speed."
In the third inning, Wabasso added three more runs. The first batter reached on a walk and the next batter bunted. An error on the throw, followed by another bunt and two more base hits, sent three runners home.
The Rabbits scored one more in the fifth and another in the seventh inning.
The Tigers started a rally in the bottom of the seventh. Back-to-back singles by Heather Gagner and Courtney Vogel, followed by two Rabbit errors, allowed both Gagner and Vogel to score.
"Both Gagner and Vogel had nice base hits in the inning," said Holmberg.
The inning ended with an out at home.
"We took a chance trying to score on a ball hit to the right side and Alissa Melberg was just short of the plate," explained Holmberg.
The Tigers did not execute on the Rabbit bunts.
"We practiced against the bunt, but it was difficult to practice against their speed," said Holmberg.
Mary Rentz fielded cleanly at short stop and Brianna Neuman had two catches out in right field.
Kelsey Amundson started on the mound for the Tigers.
"Amundson handled fielding the bunts in the first inning, but our coverage of the bases was not there," explained Holmberg.
MacKenzie Weatherly came in to pitch in the third inning. She gave up five hits and four runs.
"Weatherly's throw to first was off the mark on the bunt," said Holmberg. "With their speed, they were able to score.
"Take away the first and third innings, and we played right with them," added Holmberg. "We were hoping to have another chance to play them in the tournament."
Red Rock Central/ Westbrook-Walnut Grove scored two runs in the top of the eighth to end the season for Morris Area.
The Tigers led the entire game, until the seventh inning when the lead-off hitter reached on a base hit, advanced to second on a passed ball, and reached third on a sacrifice bunt.
"We almost had a double play to end the game," said Holmberg.
Sara Beyer had an unassisted play at first for the second out and threw home to get the runner. The throw was on the mark, but a little late.
Tying the score 3-3 opened the door for extra innings.
In the eighth, the Falcons reached on a base hit and a walk. A double steal allowed the runners to advance to second and third.
"Rentz and Dani Schultz (catcher) made a great play, but the ball was knocked out of Rentz's glove," said Holmberg.
Both runners scored on a base hit.
The Tigers attempted a comeback in the bottom of the eighth. With one out, Shadow Olson tripled and scored on a ground out by Schultz. However, the Falcons got the last Tiger out on strikes to end the game.
"We had some chances in the early innings to score," said Holmberg.
Schultz and Haley Henrichs led off the game with back-to-back singles. Schultz scored on Henrich's single. Rentz then grounded out, Beyer hit a line drive to the short stop, and Henrichs was doubled up at third.
The Tigers scored two runs in the third inning. Melberg led off with a single, advanced on a passed ball, and scored on a ground ball by Schultz. Olson walked and scored on a passed ball.
"Our top hitters struggled, hitting three of 14," said Holmberg. "We didn't capitalize on the chances we had."
Defensively, Melberg made two big catches in left field.
"We played solid defense," added Holmberg. "In fastpitch, one or tow errors can really hurt, and we had two."
The right side of the infield was very busy, with Heather Gagner having three assists and two put outs.
Weatherly pitched the eight innings for the Tigers. She gave up eight hits, five runs, walked two, and struck out five.
"Hindsight is always 20-20," said Holmberg. "As a coach it is hard to second guess yourself.
"The girls played hard and took the loss hard," she said. "I had a great group of girls to work with."
On May 26, the Falcons lost to Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg. The Saints then lost to Murray County Central.
Wabasso defeated Murray County Central in the section championship to advance to the state tournament.