Softball: L-P’s 4-run lead slips away in 7th inning of regional final loss

Geneseo advances to sectional; Cavaliers finish season 29-6

La Salle Peru High School Athletics logo

ROCK ISLAND – Everything seemed in place Friday for the La Salle-Peru softball team to win its first regional championship since 2013.

The No. 2-seeded Cavaliers scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take a four-run lead with three outs to go and ace pitcher Chloe Mitchell having allowed only four hits to that point.

Then everything fell apart.

No. 3 Geneseo scored six runs in the top of the seventh inning – including a game-tying three-run homer by Jaelyn Lambin – then held off the Cavs in the bottom half to rally for a 7-5 victory in the Class 3A Rock Island Regional championship.

“We knew we had to go out there and finish, and it just didn’t happen,” L-P coach Randy Huebbe said. “If you told me we’d be 29-6, I’d have taken it. It’s just tough the way it ended here.”

The Cavs entered the bottom of the sixth inning holding a 2-1 lead and gave themselves a cushion with a three-run inning.

With the bases loaded and one out, Taylor Martyn ripped a two-run single down the first base line. With Ava Lannen at the plate, Martyn took a big lead off first, drawing a throw that allowed Addie Duttlinger to race home to extend L-P’s lead to 5-1.

“You have to be [confident going into the bottom of the seventh up four],” Huebbe said. “But you also know they’re capable [of scoring]. We talked about them being a big-inning type team.”

Sindey Spindel led off with a double, and after a flyout, Lauryn Wildermut ripped an RBI single to left-center. Sienna Frank drew a walk – a pitch after a foul pop-up fell to the ground when two fielders collided – to bring up Lambin with two runners on.

Lambin blasted the ball over the fence in center field to tie the game.

The Maple Leafs followed with three straight singles – the last from Madison Scott scoring a run – before capping the six-run inning with a sacrifice fly to right by Spinel.

“Once a couple runs scored, then everybody tightens up,” Martyn said. “That’s just how it works. I mean, every team does that, and I think that happened to us and we just weren’t able to win them back, which happens sometimes.”

The Cavs were in control most of the game. Mitchell pitched a 1-2-3 top of the first before L-P grabbed the lead in the bottom half. Duttlinger led off with a single, and Martyn followed by belting the ball over the center-field fence for a 2-0 lead.

“It was a great confidence booster,” said Martyn, who finished 2 for 3 with four RBIs. “It definitely got us rolling. It was very crucial to the team.”

Mitchell and the defense helped L-P keep the lead until the seventh. Mitchell gave up one run – on a solo homer by Tara Bomleny in the fourth – on four hits through six innings before leaving the game with one out in the seventh in favor of Taylor Vescogni.

“Chloe pitched six awesome innings,” Huebbe said. “It’s just hard to stop the momentum when it starts rolling, and they got it rolling.”

The Cavaliers finish 29-6 and placed second in the Interstate 8 Conference. L-P’s season ended in regional final for the fourth season in a row.

“I’m very proud [of our season],” Martyn said. “I’m very happy. I had the best team with me. I couldn’t ask for anybody better. I think we laid it all out there.”

Friday’s loss marked the end of the careers for Martyn, Mitchell, Lannen, Avah Moriarty, Emma Hocking, Izzy Pohar, Evin Becker, Brooklyn Lowery and Laurel Politsch.

“I couldn’t be more proud of them. I had a hard time talking to the seniors out there [in left field after the game],” Huebbe said. “They meant a lot to us.”

Despite losing nine seniors, the Cavs will return several key players next season, as they started three freshman, a sophomore and two juniors Friday.

“I can’t say we’re rebuilding,” Huebbe said. “We had three freshmen, a sophomore and two juniors in the lineup. We have a good pitcher coming back with Taylor [Vescogni]. She’s pretty tough, and she’s going to be even better next year. Can we match this year? I don’t know, but I think we’ll be pretty darn good.”