Class 1A softball: Serena tops Marquette 13-12 in regional title game slugfest

Huskers, Crusaders combine for 31 hits, 10 for extra bases, including four home runs, and 51 base runners.

The Serena softball team defeated Marquette 13-12 on Friday to win the Class 1A Indian Creek Regional.

SHABBONA – In the movie “Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom” there is a famous scene where Indy and friends take a harrowing roller coaster ride in an abandoned mineshaft in a cart with no brakes to stop it.

That’s kind of the feel there was to Friday’s Class 1A Indian Creek Regional final between No. 2-seeded Serena and No. 3-seeded Marquette.

Both teams combined for 35 runs, 31 hits, 10 for extra bases including four home runs and 51 base runners.

After nine lead changes, the Huskers scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh to end a wild and thrilling 13-12 victory over the Crusaders for their second straight regional title.

“This is going to sound crazy, but I’m not so sure the pitchers that pitched today weren’t really pretty good,” Serena coach Kelly Baker said with a laugh. “I just think as hitters everyone on both sides came in with the confidence at the plate that were going to get the job done no matter the situation.”

Serena (20-7) advances to Tuesday’s Woodland Sectional semifinal against the winner of Saturday’s Dwight Regional final between the host Trojans and Gardner-South Wilmington. Marquette finished the season 17-8.

“Both teams just clawed and fought back and forth the whole game,” Baker said. “It was crazy.

In the bottom of the seventh tied at 12, Serena’s RayElle Brennan dribbled an infield single and went to second on a throwing error to start the frame. Jenna Setchell followed with a single to right with Brennan holding at third before Paisley Twait was intentionally walked to load the bases. Makayla McNally then chopped a ball back to Crusader pitcher Taylor Cuchra, who threw home for the force out, but the umpire ruled the catcher’s foot came off home plate early, and Brennan scored.

Marquette had a single by Cuchra and an error put runners on first and second with none out in the top of the seventh. McNally then made a great catch up against the fence in left field on a deep drive off the bat of Avery Durdan to keep the go-ahead run at second. Serena pitcher Maddie Galde then retired the next two batters to keep the score tied.

“My coaches have been telling me all season that I need to just get back and under the ball on hits like that,” McNally said. “I knew she got a hold of it, and it was going to be right near the fence. I was just running back thinking ‘Just get under it’ and my very last step I feel my cleat sink into the [warning track] sand. Luckily, I didn’t have to take another step and the ball found its way into my glove. It sure was a sigh of relief.”

Marquette scored twice in its first at-bats on RBI ground balls by Kelsey Cuchra and Durdan. Serena responded with four runs in its half on a three-run homer by Twait and an RBI groundout by Glade to make it 4-2.

The Crusaders used a three-run blast from Durdan to go ahead 5-4 in the third, only to see the Huskers grab a 6-5 lead with an RBI double by Cassie Walsh and a run-scoring single by Brynley Glade.

The teams traded three runs in the fourth, Marquette’s on a two-run hit by Makayla Backos and RBI single by Kealey Rick, and Serena’s on a three-run homer by Lanee Cole.

Marquette took a 12-9 lead in the fifth on a grand slam by Kelsey Cuchra.

Serena tied the game with three in the bottom of the inning on RBI singles by Brennan and McNally and a run-scoring fielder’s choice by Cole.

Setchell had four hits and Brennan three to lead the Huskers’ 15-hit attack, while Maddie Glade (7 IP, 16 H, 10 ER, 3 BB, 2 K) earned the win.

Kelsey Cuchra and Anna Hjerpe each had three hits to pace the Crusaders’ 16-hit offense, while Taylor Cuchra (⅔ IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 0 K) and Hunter Hopkins (Loss, 5 ⅓ IP, 11 H, 9 ER, 4 BB, 4 K) shared time in the circle.

“It was a slugfest. I can’t remember ever being in a game like this before,” Marquette coach Curtiss Johnson said. “I couldn’t be prouder of every girl on this team, especially the seniors. The seniors were part of two teams that reached the supersectionals during their career and they showed this season what it means to be part of this program. They kept the bar set high for the next groups to try to set higher.”

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