KINNIKINNICK — Timely hitting almost always leads to crooked numbers in the win column. But for West Tuesday evening, unfortunately, timely hitting didn’t play a part in its performance.
In a Division III sectional semifinal at Zane Trace, West (5-18) fell by a 10-3 final in a game it had a chance to tie with one swing of the bat in the fifth inning.
“We couldn’t really capitalize when we were at the plate. Our defense was really stellar, we played almost perfect ball,” West coach Dani Coleman said. “But when we can’t put the ball in play with runners on base … we just couldn’t get that clutch hit.”
The Senators struck the scoreboard first when Haivan Dillow logged an RBI single in the top of the first inning, scoring Nataya Richards. But Zane Trace (14-12) immediately answered with six runs in the bottom half of the inning, taking a five-run lead.
Instead of hanging their heads, Coleman’s girls chose to fight back.
West scored one in the second and another in the third, cutting the Pioneers’ edge to 6-3. The run in the third came from a solo homer off the bat of Dillow.
Dillow’s grandfather recently passed away, so when she was rounding second base, she made sure to spot her grandma in the stands.
“The past four games, I haven’t really been hitting the ball,” Dillow said. “But when I was on deck, I looked at coach and said, ‘I’m going to hit a dinger. I feel it.’ Sure enough, I did. I looked at my grandma and she was screaming over there … it was really great.”
After Dillow’s homer, in the fifth inning, West had a chance to force a 6-6 tie or at least cut the lead to a single run. With Laney Ayers standing on third and Richards occupying second, the Senators popped out to third and grounded out to short, ending the inning and the threat.
“We couldn’t connect today,” Coleman said. “Our kids are anxious at the plate and we’ve worked on mindset and being more patient. We just didn’t connect in big spots.”
The Pioneers put a four-spot on the board in the top of the seventh, furthering their lead and putting the game out of reach for good.
Dillow finished 1-for-3 with the home run and two RBIs, Richards was 2-for-4 with two doubles and a run, and Morgan Rigsby was 2-for-3 with a triple and a run.
Tuesday’s loss forces the Senators to say goodbye to their lone senior Dreama Sadler.
“Dreama came in as a third baseman and a catcher a couple of years ago. She served under the five seniors and played catcher and, lastly, filled our designated player role,” Coleman said. “She’s the glue that held us together and she’s a really good motivator.”
As West turns its attention to the future, it’s certainly a bright one with a platoon of returners joining forces with some up and coming talent.
“We have a very young team after losing a lot of seniors last year,” Coleman said. “Everybody had a new position to learn this year, except for our pitcher and some of our outfielders. The girls have fought all year long, overcoming adversity and some injuries. We’ve got some good incoming freshmen who are really making their mark and that incoming group won their junior high conference. I’m really excited because this is one of the hardest-working groups I’ve had.”
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