Walk-off hit gives Warriors wild first round playoff win
A scoreless top of the first for the Pekin softball team gave spectators a false sense of normalcy Tuesday when the Panthers took on Van Buren in the first round of Class 2A regionals.
Normal is far from what came next, which was 25 combined runs and a game that can only be described as wild. The Warriors came out on top 13-12 in eight innings, and will be playing again tonight in round two at No. 1 rated Highland.
The Warriors (6-17) managed to score three runs in the bottom of the first (Van Buren was the home team even though the game was played at Pekin) thanks to three straight singles from Taylor Murguia, Abby Rider and Alicia Fitzsimmons. With the bases loaded, Kadie Meek grounded out, stranding three runners. This would be a theme for the Warriors, as they would wind up stranding 13 runners on the night.
The first inning single was just the beginning for Murguia, who wound up 6-6 with a double, two runs scored and three RBIs.
“I’ve been struggling the last few games,” Murguia said. “I hit a home run the last game and that brought me back up.”
Pekin (16-12) answered with an eight-run second inning, in what could have become the turning point of the game. Instead, the Warriors were allowed to climb back into contention.
“Something we battled with all year was letting the other team hang around too long,” Pekin coach Allison Glick said. “I feel like after [our second inning] we should have taken control of the game, but we didn’t.”
Van Buren scored seven runs in the bottom of the second to take a 10-8 lead. Jessie Cassens, Meek and Bonnie Saunders each walked with the bases loading during the rally.
“When you have seven seniors on a team, this is the kind of stuff you expect from them,” Van Buren coach Eric Speer said. “We got down early after that huge second inning, but every player stayed up got us the lead back.”
McKenna Gambell replaced Pekin starting pitcher Ashlyn Zook in the second inning, and was solid for 2 1/3 innings before being hit by a line drive in her pitching hand. The ball, which would have struck her face or chest had she not gotten her arms up in time, careened off Gambell and wound up being an infield single. Courtney Comstock replaced Gambell and pitched the rest of the game.
“By the time I got out to the mound [the hand] was already puffed out,” Glick said. “She could move everything, but picking up the ball was going to be a problem.”
Van Buren led 12-10 entering the top of the seventh inning. Fitzsimmons, who pitched all eight innings for the Warriors, was given a giant boost by second baseman Hallie Whitten. With the bases loaded and one run already having scored, a line drive off the bat of Sloan Reighard found Whitten’s glove. She then stomped on second base for the double play, completely changing the look of the inning.
Whitten had previously made two errors in the inning.
“Hallie is a fighter,” Speer said. “She may make some mistakes, but she made up for it with that huge double play she had.”
With two outs, Pekin catcher Tiana Slaney smacked a single up the middle that tied the game at 12. Down to her last strike, the senior forced the game into extra innings.
The game winning hit came from Abby Rider, who singled home Caitlyn Millard in the bottom of the eighth. Rider went 4-5 with a double and three RBIs.
Glick and the Panthers were emotional after the loss.
“I’m proud of the way everyone played,” Glick said. “I just wish the outcome would have been different.”
Pekin – 08200020 – 12 10 2
VB – 37011001 – 13 15 5
Class 1A – Regional First Round
Bedford 12, Diagonal 2
Mount Ayr 8, East Union 0
Class 2A – Regional First Round
MMC-RU 4, Unity Christian 1
Sioux Central 9, HMS 7
Lyon 5, Okoboji 0
Sibley-Ocheyedan 4, West Lyon 2
Belmond-Klemme 14, West Hancock 4
Lake Mills 6, West Fork 5
Emmetsburg 13, Pocahontas 7
Eagle Grove 14, Clarion-Goldfield 3
South Hardin 10, Aplington-Parkersburg 0
Dike-New Hartford 5, Grundy Center 2
South Winneshiek 17, Nashua-Plainfield 3
MFL Mar Mac 13, Wapsie Valley 0
Cascade 2, Bellevue 0
Maquoketa Valley 6, Clayton Ridge 3
West Branch 11, Clayton 9
Edgewood-Colesburg 5, North Linn 3
Danville 10, Columbus 3
Cardinal 13, BGM 1
Jesup 17, Iowa Valley 13
Pleasantville 7, Central Decatur 3
CMB 5, West Marshall 4
Gladbrook-Reinbeck 2, Hudson 0
South Hamilton 8, Madrid 5
Panorama 13, South Central Calhoun 1
Ogden 4, DM Christian 2
Van Meter 12, Audubon 0
Southwest Valley 8, Nodaway Valley 3
Underwood 16, St. Albert 6
Treynor 10, Riverside 0
Missouri Valley 9, Tri-Center 6
Ridge View 11, West Monona 1
Class 3A – Regional First Round
Sioux Center 5, MOC Floyd Valley 2
Cherokee 5, OA-BCIG 4
Sergeant Bluff-Luton 14, Kuemper Catholic 4
Greene County 10, East Sac County 0
Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley 1, Estherville-Lincoln Central 0
Spirit Lake 9, Sheldon 8
Osage 7, Forest Lake 1
Garner-Hayfield/Ventura 9, Clear Lake 6
Bondurant-Farrar 4, Nevada 3
Roland-Story 3, Gilbert 1
North Polk 4, Iowa Falls-Alden 3
Humboldt 6, Hampton-Dumont 1
East Marshall 10, South Tama 0
Columbus Catholic 3, Union 2
Crestwood 9, Waukon 1
New Hampton 5, North Fayette Valley 4
Center Point-Urbana 4, Oelwein 0
Independence 5, Vinton-Shellsburg 4
Mount Vernon 6, Beckman Cathlic 3
Anamosa 7, Monticello 1
Benton 17, Tipton 0
Camanche 5, Northeast 1
Mid-Prairie 11, Louisa-Muscatine 1
Williamsburg 9, West Liberty 5
I-35 7, Chariton 6
PCM 15, Davis County 3
West Burlington/Notre Dame 7, Mediapolis 0
Albia 11, Central Lee 1
Clarke 7, Centerville 0
Shenandoah 14, Clarinda 2
ADM 8, West Central Valley 1
Atlantic 15, Red Oak 3