No. 3 Reservoir takes on No. 2 Centennial in a 3A East region, Section I semifinal game on Tuesday, May 16 at Centennial High School.
Reservoir had talked about needing a fast start against Centennial Tuesday, but coach Julia Frisvold never predicted the offensive onslaught that ensued in the top of the first inning.
The No. 3 Gators went through their line up and scored nine runs on six hits to open up the game against the No. 2 Eagles to propel a 15-9 victory in the 3A/2A East region, Section I semifinal.
"We talked about jumping on them and we didn't expect that, but that was phenomenal from our batting line up all around," Frisvold said. "Just jumping on them and kind of getting it to a good place and continuing to score throughout the game."
Reservoir (14-6) brought in tons of momentum from its convincing 16-5 victory over Long Reach in the opening round of the MPSSAA playoffs Monday and got its first four runners on base with no outs.
Emma Bailey, Holly Daum and Breann Smith all walked to load the bases for Katy Wnuk-Fink, who hit a two RBI double to get the scoring spree started.
Maddy Jones platted Wnuk-Fink with a sacrifice ground out and the Gators followed with six straight hits including a two RBI single by Hunter Little and a bases clearing triple by Bailey to boost the score to 8-0.
Daum added one more with an RBI single to send Bailey home, but was called out trying to get to second, which finally put an end to the top of the first inning.
"After the first inning we felt really good, because we were all hitting very well," Daum said. "We thought that if we kept hitting the ball that it would just continue into other innings."
Centennial (12-10) had its ace Celina Jensen start in the circle, but the senior struggled early and ultimately was relived by Jordan Hinz, who came off a five-inning no-hitter Monday against Wilde Lake, after one out in the first.
"The end of the season was tough on her," said Eagles coach Katie Grimm of Jensen. "She was pitching so much and I definitely saw an incredible amount of fatigue. She had a couple bullpen sessions in between the last time she pitched and today, but sometimes you just don't have it and she didn't. She's had it for us all year, and it is what it is. I can't be made at that. Luckily we have someone to come in behind her and pick her up."
Despite the large 9-0 hole, Centennial didn't get discouraged and went back to work at the plate.
After getting shutout by Bailey in the first two innings, the Eagles broke through in the bottom of the fourth.
Gracie Rockefeller got it started with a walk and later scored on a passed ball. Lauren Marcotte provided a hit, while Jensen got on on an error. Olivia Reese then brought them both home after hitting a looping shot down the right field line. She hustled around the bases for the inside the park home run to cut the deficit to 11-4.
"It's kind of the theme of our year," Grimm said. "We got off to a hot start and then we were humbled. Our character was tested constantly. Are we going to fight back? And we had to learn how to do that and we did that all season and despite losing today I think everybody saw that."
Centennial added three more in the fifth inning with Marcotte again facilitating the rally after hitting a one-out triple to put her self in scoring position for Jensen, who came through with an RBI single.
Reese walked and Grace Bennett knocked in Jensen on a hard hit ball through the left side of the infield. Sarah Phelps then stepped up to drive in Reese on a sacrifice ground out to bring the score to 12-7 heading into the sixth inning.
"We could have very easily quit," Grimm continued. "That is quite a deficit against an extremely talented and well-coached team, but they learned to fight and how to fight and I am proud of that. I wish the outcome was different, but that's how this game goes. That is why you love it and why you hate it."
Reservoir didn't rely on its prolific first inning and continued stringing hits together to add runs in the third, fourth and sixth innings to keep a steady cushion throughout the game.
Jones drove in Daum and Smith in the top of the third on a two RBI single, while getting the sixth started with a lead off triple. Macayla Allen brought her home on a sacrifice ground out. Little then stepped up two batters later and hit a shot over the center field fence for a two-run home run to boost the advantage to 15-9 entering the seventh inning.
"We said, 'look we're going to score and they are going to score. It is how we get out of the innings and then how we score that next inning, so we can continue to have a gap,'" Frisvold said. "We knew they were going to come back. They've got some big bats, and you know, that is the game of softball."
Eight of nine batters collected at least one hit for the Gators, who finished with 17 total hits in the game. Bailey went 2-for-3 with two walks, two runs and three RBI, Daum went 3-for-4 with a walk, an RBI and two runs and Jones went 3-for-5 with three RBI and a run, while Little finished with four RBI and two runs scored.
"Yes I am [excited] this is the first time we've been to the third round since I've been here," Daum said. "We're usually a playoff team and when we beat Long Reach yesterday by that much we just wanted to do the same thing today and we're going to try and carry it over to tomorrow."
The win pits the Gators against top-seed Glenelg, which defeated River Hill 14-0 Tuesday. During their two regular season meetings, the Gladiators edged Reservoir 2-0, and 5-1.
"I think tomorrow will be a great game," Frisvold said. "Obviously, Glenelg is a great team and we're going to have to have our heads on straight and are going to have to make sure that we go hard every minute of every inning of every single play."
Marcotte led the way for Centennial, going 4-for-4 with a double, triple a stolen base and three runs scored. Jensen went 2-for-3 with a walk, three RBI and three runs, while Bennett went 3-for-4 with an RBI.
"I told them that this game is a really tricky game and it always looks to humble you," Grimm said. "You can come out one day, pitch a no-hitter, hit the ball really well and completely blank a team and then you come out and you find yourself looking at a 9-0 deficit. This game just showed a ton of character from my kids and at the end of the day, to me that is what matters most. They have tremendous character and they are great kids and I feel good about leaving it at that."
The Eagles graduate key starters in Jensen and Carrie Strott, but bring back the core of their roster next season. Grimm was proud of the growth she had seen from her young group and is excited for the potential of her team for next season and beyond.
"So happy and just to see the amount of growth that they've had this year is just outstanding," she said. "The future is definitely bright. We have a lot of talent and hopefully with a nice summer ball league and they come back next year we wont have the jitters and we won't have the oopsies as much as we do. Because despite how talented they all are, every one makes mistakes and the younger you are the tougher it is to come back, but I am excited for them next year."
Reservoir 15, Centennial 9
Re (14-6), C (12-10)
Re — 9 0 2 1 0 3 0 15 17 3
C — 0 0 4 0 3 2 0 9 10 2
Pitching: Re — Bailey, Lloyd (6) and Hatzakos; C — Jensen, Hinz (1) and Reese.
2B: Re — Wink-Funk; C — Marcotte, Jensen
3B: Re — Jones; C — Marcotte
HR: Re — Little; C — Reese.
Around the league:
Glenelg 14, River Hill 0 (3A East region, Section I)
Amy Stetser and Gabby Browne combined for a one-hit five-inning shutout Tuesday for the top-seeded Gladiators.
Katie Dustin led Glenelg offensively, driving in five runs and going 2-for-3 at the plate. She batted in runs with a single in the third and a grand slam in the fourth inning, while Katie McIntyre homered in the third inning to help bolster the lead.
Stetser earned the win. She went four innings, surrendering no runs, one hit, while striking out six and walking none.
The Gladiators totaled nine hits with McIntyre, Dustin and Stetser each collecting multiple hits.
The No. 4 Hawks' lone hit came from a single by Quinn Kindbom in the fourth inning. Delanie Vintz got the start for the Hawks, while Kindbom closed out the final 3 1/3 innings.