Softball: Seneca outlasts Marquette in 11 innings for Tri-County Conference victory

Fighting Irish stay unbeaten in conference with 6-5 win over Crusaders

Seneca's Emma Mino

OTTAWA – Seneca freshman Emma Mino had a very simple plan as she stepped into the batter’s box with two outs and a runner on first in the 11th inning of Tuesday’s Tri-County Conference game against Marquette.

“I had the plan that if the pitch was inside at all, I wasn’t going to swing at it,” Mino said. “Then the pitch came in, and it was right down the middle, maybe a little toward the outside. I just tried to hit it as hard as I could. I just went with it.”

Mino, with Alyssa Zellers heading to second on a steal attempt, lined Crusaders pitcher Taylor Cuchra’s pitch to center field. Zellers, who had singled, was able to score after the ball was bobbled in the outfield. Seneca’s Tessa Krull then pitched around a walk and an error in the bottom of the 11th to secure a thrilling 6-5 victory at June Gross Field.

“It was a nerve-racking game, especially in the seventh when [Marquette] tied it up and a couple innings after that when we couldn’t score,” Mino said. “Even with all the craziness, it was a really fun game to play in.”

“We locked in, found a way to push across a run there in the 11th and then were able to close things out with Tessa (Krull) back in the circle.”

—  Brian Holman, Seneca softball coach

Marquette (11-6, 8-3 TCC) grabbed the lead in the third on an RBI single by Avery Durdan, but the Irish responded with three runs in the fourth on a wild pitch and RBI hits by Audry McNabb and Krull.

Seneca (22-1, 12-0) made it 5-1 in the sixth on a solo homer to center by Lexie Buis off Marquette reliever Anna Hjerpe and an RBI groundout by Aurora Weber off Maisie Lyons.

“We had to fight hard all the way through this one, and I think we all knew it was going to be a tight one,” Seneca coach Brian Holman said. “We talked before the bottom of the sixth after we made it 5-1 that if we stayed away from walks and errors, we win the game. Well, then we have a couple walks to start the seventh and an error and all of a sudden, we’re getting ready to bat in the top of the eighth.

“When you put yourself in bad spots against good teams, eventually those teams are going to take advantage. We didn’t have good at-bats in the eighth, ninth or 10th – everyone was trying to get a run on one swing. That said, we locked in, found a way to push across a run there in the 11th, and then were able to close things out with Tessa back in the circle.”

The Marquette seventh began with Seneca reliever Hayden Pfeifer walking Hunter Hopkins and Taylor Cuchra around a strikeout. Kelsey Cuchra followed with an opposite-field RBI double down the left field line before Durdan made it 5-3 with a run-scoring single to center. Makalya Backos then poked a single to center that scored two, and the game was tied at 5-all.

Each side was able to get runners in scoring position in the next three innings, but each time was unable to capitalize.

“This was a great environment to play a softball game in,” Marquette coach Curtiss Johnson said. “Both teams came out and really competed from the first pitch to the last pitch. Other than the outcome, this was an absolute great game all the way around.

“We’ve had a few times recently, and including today, where we have been getting on base, getting in scoring position, but then just can’t find a way to get that next hit to get them in. I couldn’t be prouder of how this group was able to get things going in the seventh and then come through with big hits when we needed them most.”

McNabb finished with three hits for Seneca, while Mino, Buis and Krull all had two hits. Krull allowed just four hits, one earned run, with five walks and 11 strikeouts, while Pfeifer allowed four hits, four runs, with four walks and 11 strikeouts.

Hopkins, Durdan and Backos all had two hits apiece for Marquette. Taylor Cuchra fanned 11 in six innings, while Lyons struck out three in 4 2/3 shutout innings.

The squads are schedule to meet again at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in Seneca.

Have a Question about this article?