You gotta have Faith
By Michael Brooks
As the Ganado Maidens softball team moved into the sixth inning in game one of the Regional Semi-Finals, they were desperately trying to hold a one run lead. Thorndale had scored their first run the inning before and were threatening again with the tying run standing at second base. Maidens pitcher Macy Kolacny delivered her pitch and the Thorndale hitter made weak contact, but the blooper was falling, coming down between second baseman Faith Palacios and right fielder Jurnee Green. However, Palacios was able to catch up to the ball and made an amazing, all-out stretching dive to haul in the ball for an out, as the Thorndale runner, who was sure the ball was going to be a hit, had to scramble back to the base. After that, the defense came through to finish the inning and the Maidens finished the seventh without allowing a run, picking up a very tense 2-1 victory.
From the beginning of the game both teams constantly had runners on base but good pitching and outstanding defense kept the score low.
Thorndale opened the game with back-to-back singles but, as became the theme of the game, the Maidens defense clamped down and Thorndale was held off the board.
The Maidens also came out hot and, aided by a bad decision by the Thorndale pitcher, Ganado was able to score first.
Ja’Lai Foster opened the game using her speed to beat out an infield single. Madi Weempe followed with a comebacker to the pitcher. The pitcher decided to try to start a double play by firing to second, but Foster beat the throw and both runners were safe. Kolacny followed with a deep fly ball that allowed both runners to advance, but Foster slid in hard to third and had to come out of the game. She came back in later, but with a noticeable limp.
With two on and one out, Bella Adrian came up with the biggest hit of the game, a two RBI single.
In the second, third baseman Chloe Gresham and Weempe displayed great defense, both making great snags and gunning a runner out at first. With Weempe’s bang-bang play, the Thorndale coach, as well as all the Thorndale fans, disputed the out call, but the out call stood.
In the fourth, with Ganado holding the 2-0 lead, Thorndale opened with a single. A hit followed but first baseman Jaxyn Bures made a great diving stop, keeping the ball in the infield, preventing the runners from advancing, and the lead runner from possibly scoring. The inning ended with the Maidens still holding the 2-0 lead.
In the innings between, Kate Smith picked up a single, and Kolacny walked but both were stranded. Later Gresham singled and Cameryn Webernick moved her to second with a sac bunt. Foster followed and got banged-up again when she was hit by the pitch. But again, they were stranded.
In the fifth, Thorndale’s leadoff hitter clanked the ball off the outfield fence. The ball was hit so hard, the runner was only able to pick up a single. She later moved to third and scored on a fielder’s choice.
In the sixth with the runner now standing on second, the next hitter hit the blooper and Palacios ran into the outfield, dove for the ball right at the foul line and made her game saving catch. The inning ended with the Maidens holding a 2-1 lead.
In the Maidens half of the sixth, Smith picked up her second single and Bures added a single, but were once again stranded.
Ganado only needed three outs to finish off the game but it wasn’t going to be easy.
Early in the season, after falling behind and then coming back to defeat Flatonia, Adrian joked “I tell coach we like giving everyone a little bit of a heart attack before we jump back ahead.” This time the Maidens had the lead the entire game but the final inning was so tense, all Ganado fans were able to finally release their collectively held breath once the last out finally came. And it didn’t come easy.
The first out came on a full count infield pop fly. The second out came on an easy comebacker to Kolacny. Then things got crazy.
With two outs, Thorndale picked up a single. The next hitter was able to get the ball passed Palacios, putting runners on second and third.
The final Thorndale batter lifted a fly ball to medium-deep right field and Jurnee Green made the catch to wrap up game one.
Game two is tonight at 6:30 in La Grange. If the Maidens win this one, they move on to the final eight, the Regional Finals, where they will face the winner of Bremond and Weimar. If the Maidens lose tonight, there will be a winner-moves-on game three on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Weimar and Bremond play their first game tonight with game two, and game three if needed, to be played on Saturday.
Note: Como-Pickton is one of the teams still playing in Region 3. They have a hashtag- #playfor8. The Lady Eagles lost a member of their team in a tragic accident earlier in the season and they remember her after every game with the hashtag along with every online post about the team. If you are a praying person, please send up prayers to their softball community that, win or lose, they are able to work through this tragic situation.