Okoboji's softball season ends in extras
The Okoboji softball team battled back from a five-run deficit Wednesday night to force extra innings, but ultimately lost an 8-7 contest to South O'Brien in the second round of the Class 2A Region 1 tournament, ending their season.
"I thought we played a pretty good game in the fact that they got on us early, but we were able to keep it together and come back and make it a game," Okoboji coach Dennis Baschke said. "To be able to take it to nine innings and have a chance to win, I think they did an awesome job."
The Pioneers fell behind early, as the Wolverines plated a run in the first and another in the second to lead 2-0.
Okoboji battled back in the bottom half of the second stanza. A pair of South O'Brien errors allowed Sierra Seeders and Autumn Jurgensen to reach base and a walk to Sydney Jensen loaded the bags for Keitra Cabinboy. The sophomore came through in the clutch, looping a hit into the outfield to score courtesy runner Kylie Jensen and Jurgensen, knotting the game at 2-2.
The Wolverines regained the lead with two runs in the top half of the third and added to their lead with three runs in the fourth, making it a 7-2 contest.
From there, though, the Okoboji defense locked down behind pitcher Mia Meyer, who was starting due to an injury to the Pioneers' freshman ace, Abbie Klatt.
"We had a couple of glitches early, but I thought we put it all together," Baschke said. "The knew that they were going to have to because Mia is a different style of pitcher than Abbie. They knew that they were probably going to have a little bit of a different defensive game to play."
Okoboji mounted its comeback in the bottom half of the fifth, as Cabinboy, Lindsey Wittrock and Grace Eckard smacked back-to-back-to-back singles to lead off the inning. A double by Jamie Adams scored a pair before Seeders hit into a fielder's choice to score one more and Mackenzie Vos sacrificed another run across to pull the Pioneers within one.
"Usually, it's the later innings when we finally start putting some runs on the board," Baschke said. "It's kind of like, we get used to what the pitcher is doing and we start doing a lot better offensively. (Adams') hit with a couple of runners on kind of sparked us. We started to feel comfortable and kept playing."
After a scoreless sixth, the Pioneers made one more push in the bottom half of the seventh. Eckard led off with a single and a sacrifice bunt by Wittrock moved Eckard all the way to third. With one out and Eckard in scoring position, Seeders sent a shot over the second baseman's glove, scoring Eckard to force extras.
"That was huge," Baschke said. "Sierra had been doing that off and on all year. It was one of those situations that she knew she had to come through. She's been doing that a lot this year, so it just kind of showed her maturity and what was expected of her to lead the team."
Both teams were held scoreless in the eighth inning, but South O'Brien came through with a double and what would be a game-winning sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth.
Despite the loss, Baschke was pleased with how his team continued to fight throughout.
"This teams has known that a lot of teams probably had a lot more athleticism than them, but if they kept playing, they had a shot at making things happen," Baschke said.
Mia Meyer took the loss on the mound. The sophomore allowed eight runs (six earned) on 11 hits and five walks while striking out six in nine innings.
The Pioneers scored seven runs on 13 hits.
Cabinboy was 4-4 with two RBIs and a run scored.
Eckard was 3-5 with two runs scored.
Wittrock was 2-5 with a run scored. Seeders was 2-4 with two RBIs.
Adams was 1-4 with a double, two RBIs and a run scored. Annie Klatt was 1-2.
With the loss, the Pioneers ended their season with a 14-18 overall record, and said goodbye to seniors Jamie Adams, Lindsey Wittrock, Autumn Jurgensen and Sierra Seeders.
It was also the final game as a head coach for Baschke, who will step down after 18 years at the helm. He will remain on as an assistant coach, but he said it was time to hand over the reigns. Still, it was tough to see the season come to a close.
"It's tough, like every season," Baschke said. "You just wish them the best and tell them thank you."