Softball falls to Spartans to end season
What a difference a couple days can make. On Tuesday, Northwestern got lead-off runners on base in five of the six innings that they came to bat. On Thursday, the Tigers were able to do that just once and that wasn't until the seventh inning. The result on Thursday was a 6-2 loss to Southern Lehigh in the semifinals of the District 11 Class AAA Playoffs.
While the Tigers weren't able to get lead-off runners on, they did get two-out baserunners in four innings. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they stranded 14 base runners in the game and they allowed four unearned runs.
"It's a funny game, but you've got to find ways to win those games and we just couldn't seem to break through and string enough of them together today," said first-year coach Josh Zimmerman. "I remember two times, at least, that we had the bases loaded and we just couldn't get that one key hit to bring home a couple of those runs.
Southern Lehigh made the plays in the field and they did a really good job today of keeping us from having that one big inning that we've been accustomed to this year."
Northwestern bunched together three straight two-out singles in the first inning, capped by an RBI single from Avery George to take a 1-0 lead. After Southern Lehigh tied the game in the bottom of the inning, the Tigers Brooke Wehr doubled home Jessica Badman to put Northwestern back on top 2-1.
The Lady Spartans capitalized on a Northwestern error in the bottom of the third to break the game open.
Hannah Docalovich singled in a run with one out, and when Southern Lehigh loaded the bases, it ended the day for starter Emily Bennett. Lydia Danner came on to pitch, but Hannah Dorsey singled and Sophia Rizzo doubled to drive in two runs each and give the Lady Spartans a 6-2 lead.
While Northwestern got hits in every inning off Southern Lehigh pitcher Danielle Barnes, they weren't able to get key hits to cut into the lead and left the bases loaded in both the second and fourth innings.
"I'm proud of the way that they battled all season long," said Zimmerman. "I never truly felt that we were out of a game.
"Give credit to Southern Lehigh, they played a good game. I also told the team that I wouldn't want to coach any other team than the Tigers and I would take them into battle any day of the week.
"These girls, that's the thing with them, they'll try to win a game any way that they can, whether it takes two-out hits or getting a lot of leadoffs on. With a young team, I'm looking forward to the future. We're going to be in pretty good shape in a few years to come here."
Zimmerman had a very young team this season, with just two seniors in first baseman Sunny Greenburg and pitcher Emily Bennett.
"These two were freshmen when I left as an assistant coach, so it was good to get back with them and they're going to be tough to replace," he said. "It's tough to replace a bat like Sunny's and probably, the hardest thing to replace is going to be Emily Bennett's leadership. She was always cheering her teammates on and it was just like having another coach with me all year.
"It hurts to see those two go out with a loss, but when you think about it, all but four teams in the state end their season with a loss."