It was the first win of the season for the Red Devils (1-7), and a Hall fan excitedly said, “We’ve been waiting for that.”
“Not to make fun of our team, but we haven’t had a lead all year. I think the girls felt a little scared, got a little nervous and didn’t know how to play with a lead,” Hall coach Mike Filippini said. “I told them a lot of teams would have folded. [We] gave up three runs in that inning, two errors, dropped fly ball, bad throw to first. They kept their heads in it and just kept on playing and didn’t let that bother them.
“I’m just happy for those girls. We earned this win. We started out 0-7 and played some tough teams. You get down on yourself. It’s hard to win when you’re 0-7. People at school teasing you and stuff. I’m happy for the girls. We got that out of the way and now we can just play softball.”
Morris, who led Hall with a three-hit game, said this was just what Hall needed.
“This win was huge for us especially to help with our confidence,” she said. “After finally breaking the seal of getting that first win, I feel like the entire team feels so much more comfortable playing and doing what we are capable of without the constant pressure of trying to get that first win.
“Our girls all played so well tonight, and it was a great feeling to have some clean defensive innings and some solid hits all around as well. BV’s pitcher [Tyra Sayler] came out throwing hard, so we all knew we really had to step up big tonight and make some big plays, and we executed really well.”
Morris got the Devils’ winning rally going with a solid hit to center field to lead off the eighth. Bureau Valley misplayed a bunt by Kami Walk, sending Morris to third and Walk to second.
Sayler fanned Hall catcher Josie Barroso, but bounced a pitch in the dirt that skipped past catcher Darla Kepner and Morris excitedly danced home with the winning run.
“When I was on third, Fil told me to be ready for anything. I saw the passed ball and just knew I had to go after it. It’s really exhilarating, and having the whole team excited too was such a great feeling,” Morris said. “I’m definitely not the fastest girl on the team, but I knew my team was counting on me on that play.
“We were probably due a break, but you got to take advantage when you get them,” Filippini said of the game-ending wild pitch.
Maggie Filippini got the Hall bats going in the bottom of the third inning with a deep triple to right field, her dad/coach, noting she got her speed from her mom [former Hall softballer Joanna Walsh]. Coach Filippini called for a squeeze bunt, and No. 9 hitter Gia Pozzi laid down a beauty, scoring Maggie Filippini from third.
Taytum Hahn followed with a single and took second on an error. Morris and freshman Hope Whightsil, the last of four sisters to come through the ranks for Hall, added RBI hits to stake Hall to a 3-0 lead.
Another RBI hit by Morris made it 4-1 Hall after five.
“Credit to the girls, especially the seniors. Zoey Morris had a great game at the plate and in the field. She had that huge hit to start that [eighth] inning,” coach Filippini said.
The Storm, who scored a run in the fourth on a Karlee Carlson sacrifice fly, added three more in the sixth to tie the game at 4. A throwing error on a Darla Kepner bunt made it 4-2. The Storm evened the score on a dropped fly in the outfield and a wild pitch.
Coach Sayler said it was tough loss for the Storm (1-4).
“It was 0-0 there for a while and had a couple errors at the wrong time. That’s the way it’s been lately. One bad inning kind of does us in,” he said. “We started bunting and that was working. We got a few sac flys and a couple timely hits.
“It’s a learning process. We have some nervous kids out here right now. I got to them to calm down and just relax.”
Filippini retired the first nine BV batters she faced until Bre Broers led off the fourth with a single. She allowed only four hits.
Sayler fanned five of the first seven hitters she faced, not surrendering a hit until Filippini cracked her triple in the fourth. She struck out 11 in the game and scattered eight hits.
“Tyra Sayler is as good a pitcher and throws as hard as anybody that we’ll face. That should give us confidence,” coach Filippini said. “We had a much better approach at the plate. We had some really good at-bats at the top of the order.”
In addition to Morris’ three hits, Hahn and Whitghsil added two each.
The same two teams play again Thursday at Bureau Valley.
Kevin has been sports editor of the BCR for more than 34 years and previously was sports editor of the St. Louis Daily News, Morton Tazewell News and ISU Daily Vidette. He is a 2021 inductee into the IBCA Hall of Fame as a media member and has won numerous IPA press awards.