Trojans down Panthers, advance
Despite falling in an early hole, the Trojan softball team defeated the Mount Pleasant Panthers Thursday in the first round of the regional playoffs.
The Trojans won 8-4 on 10 team hits. Fairfield will play at Oskaloosa at 7 p.m. Saturday. Oskaloosa received a first-round bye. Oskaloosa was rated for most of the year.
Even though the game was played in Fairfield, the Trojans were the visiting team. The Panthers struck first with two runs in the bottom of the first inning, but their lead didn’t last long.
Fairfield scored eight unanswered runs to take a commanding lead. The Trojans put up four in the second, two in the third, one in the fourth and one in the fifth.
The Panthers mustered two runs in the bottom of the seventh but it was too little, too late.
“I think the kids had confidence that we could score,” said Fairfield head coach Bob Bradfield. “We had played Mount Pleasant four times and had hit their pitching well all four times. We knew we were capable of coming back.”
In their four previous meetings with Mount Pleasant, the Trojans won handily by scores of 12-0, 12-0, 11-0 and 6-0. Thursday was the first time in five games Fairfield had surrendered a run to the Panthers.
Sophomore designated hitter Madison Roberts got the crowd on its feet with a two-run homer in the third. It was Roberts’s third home run of the season. Roberts went 2-4 with two runs and two RBIs.
Mackenzie McClure was 2-4 with a double, two runs and an RBI.
Makenzie Flattery singled, doubled, scored a run and drove in one. Marisa Repp singled and scored, as did Kenady Waugh. McKenna Ledger was 1-3 with a walk. Katie Anderson singled and batted in a run.
Except for a hiccup in the first inning, Alli Deao shut down the Panthers’ bats. She allowed two earned runs on six hits and no walks with four strikeouts. Haley Grunwald pitched the seventh, allowing two unearned runs and two hits.
Bradfield said he pulled Deao after six innings partly because she had pitched so much two days earlier against Burlington when she went 12 innings, and because he wanted Grunwald to stay sharp in case he needed her against Oskaloosa. He said Deao will probably start against the Indians Saturday.
“I would have liked a little bigger lead earlier so I could have subbed in more people,” he said. “An 8-2 lead is a decent lead but you don’t want to mess around too much with several innings to go. Mount Pleasant has several good hitters, too.”
Bradfield said Oskaloosa has a good pitcher who throws hard. Alexis Groet, an eighth-grader on the Indians, has a 16-4 record with 161 strikeouts in just under 140 innings this season. She has limited opposing batters to an average of .156.
“She throws a little harder than the majority of pitchers we’ve faced,” Bradfield said. “We’ll have to be ready to make quicker decisions at the plate and be quicker with our swing. She also throws inside a little more than other pitchers we’ve faced.”
Oskaloosa is 23-10 and began the year with a 14-game winning streak.