With a swift slide by Kristal Beyer and a fist pump from coach Stacey Alberts, the Lynnville-Sully Hawks’ softball season ended on the highest of high notes.
The Hawks came into the bottom of the seventh inning against Remsen-St. Mary’s trailing by a run after R-S broke the tie with a squeeze bunt in the top of the inning. That was a run that could have broken the Hawks’ spirits, but as this team showed on Wednesday, nothing or no one can do that.
Sophomore Lysandra James roped a pitch back up the middle to lead off the seventh. Beyer then pulled a pitch just inside the third base line for another base hit, putting the tying run on first base. Following a fielder’s choice that put both runners into scoring position, pinch-hitter Bayli Van Manen hit a grounder to second base. The R-S second baseman fired home much too late and the game was tied.
With the game tied at three and Beyer standing on third base, Lynnville-Sully’s statistical catalyst in the circle and at the plate, Madison Rasmusson, stepped up to the plate. She hit a shallow fly ball out to right field, a ball that, in most situations, would be a questionable decision to tag-up on, but this was no normal situation. Beyer sprinted for home and slid her hand safely across home plate for the win.
“I was thinking just get a hit, just get the ball in play,” Rasmusson said. “I needed to do that to get the run home. This feels really good.”
The 4-3 win for the Hawks gave the team a fifth-place finish at the Class 1A state tournament, and although the team had loftier aspirations coming in to the tournament, it was clear by the tears and the jubilation shared by the coaches and players that this game certainly mattered.
“I think we just said that this is our game, and let’s take it right here, right now,” Alberts said. “This is a tough game walking into it, because you know it’s your last. There’s a lot of emotion, a lot of stuff going on in the season, and it just kind of comes down to one inning and it’s over. This is the highest the school has ever finished, and it’s something to be proud of.”
R-S got on top of the Hawks early. Makenzie Ricke led the game off with a sharp single through the left side of the diamond. Following a diving catch by third baseman Brenna Lanser on a bunt attempt, Ricke stole second. Anyssa Trejo’s infield single put R-S on the board first. Another sharp single, this time by Alexis Bunkers, scored the second R-S run.
L-S answered back two innings later. Beyer led the inning off with a scorching double into left-center field. Shaylin Lukehart’s sacrifice bunt moved her over to third base, but the ball was dropped by the second baseman covering first, allowing Beyer to score. Kasiah Ehresman bunted to move Lukehart over. Rasmusson’s bunt single scored Lukehart to tie the game.
Neither team would push another run across until the final frame. Both Rasmusson and the R-S pitcher were able to shut down the opponents’ bats for much of the game. Rasmusson’s change up was filthy, forcing plenty of groundballs and swings and misses.
The L-S win came following a disappointing loss on Monday to Don Bosco. The Hawks had a lead going into the seventh, but a dropped popup allowed the Dons to come back and win the game.
“It really was amazing,” Alberts said. “Monday night was one of the harder things I’ve been through as a player or as a coach. By Monday night, they decided to move on. They all made the decision together to finish the tournament as strong as they could.”
Rasmusson’s win came after 14 innings pitched on the day, having gone the distance in Game One, although it was clear that the excitement of the moment superseded any exhaustion.
“Tired? How can I be tired after that,” Rasmusson said. “I’m pretty pumped still, so not really the least bit tired.”
“That was perfect,” Alberts added. (Rasmusson) has had a great tournament, and she had to dig down deep to throw two back-to-back games against quality teams at the state tournament. That’s not easy. She responded remarkably well. All day today she put the ball in-play, hard, and it was great to be able to see her get the final run.”
In their first game of the day, the Hawks took care of business against the Janesville Wildcats with an 8-0 win.
The Hawks jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings. In the top of the first inning, Rasmusson laid down a bunt single to lead things off. She moved to second base because of some confusion at first base, and got to third on a passed ball. Lanser’s RBI groundout put the Hawks up by one early.
In the top of the second, James led things off with a single to left field.
Beyer backed that up with a single of her own. Lukehart’s infield single brought James to the plate for the second Hawks’ run.
Van Manen then walked to load the bases. Rasmusson lined out sharply to the right fielder, allowing Beyer to tag and score. Lukehart was caught too far off first base, but the throw was mishandled by the Janesville first baseman, which allowed another run to cross the plate.
The Hawks put another run on the board in the top of the fifth inning. Shelby Davis walked and stole second to put a runner in scoring position right away. She advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a groundout.
The rest of the L-S runs would come in the top of the seventh. Lanser and Davis each had RBI singles, and a ball hit by Becca Vos was mishandled to push across the last of the Hawks’ eight runs.
The two wins ended the Hawks’ season, and chances are, the girls cannot wait to get back on the diamond. The very young team loses no players by graduation, and Vos and Lukehart are the only juniors on the team. Hawk Softball is in a very good situation for the next few years with this young core in-tact