Tough setback: Warren falls to Jackson 6-3 in district softball final

McDERMOTT – After falling to Warren twice in the regular season, the Ironladies finally got the best of Warren Friday with 6-3 Division II Southeast District final victory at Northwest High School.

Jackson (16-9) advanced to the regional tournament with the win while Warren (20-4) was eliminated from postseason play.

The Ironladies were able to take advantage of some untimely miscues by the Lady Warriors and Jackson hurler Kacee Jenkins was able to hold the royal blue and white to just three runs on eight hits after Warren scored 19 runs in two regular season wins over Jackson this year.

“We just didn’t hit and (Jackson) did,” said Warren head coach Rachelle Pallini. “Today they just outplayed us.”

Jenkins and Warren hurler Kaylee Higgins traded zeros across the board in the first three innings before Jackson finally dented the scoreboard in the top of the fourth.

Madison Spohn led off the frame with a double to left center field. Spohn came around to score on back-to-back groundouts by Sam Humphreys and Jenkins to make it 1-0. The Ironladies weren’t done there, as a two-out double, a Warren error and three bases on balls led to two more runs in the inning, putting the Warriors in a 3-0 hole.

Warren answered back in its half of the fourth with a pair of runs.

Brandi Douglass led off with a single back up the middle and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Kiley Lynch then launched a double over the left fielder’s head to plate Douglas. Later, with Lynch on third, Arrian Schetter grounded to third, allowing Lynch to cross the plate and make it a 3-2 ballgame.

What momentum Warren had gained was immediately taken back by Jackson in the top of the fifth, as the Ironladies put up another three-spot to make it a 6-2 game.

Humphreys blooped a one-out single to right to start the rally and went to second on a wild pitch. An infield single to third by Jenkins put runners on the corners. What came next was the big blow of the inning. Jensen Oberhalzer ripped a two-bagger to the left-center gap to drive in both runners and make it a three-run game again.

For good measure, Jackson would tack on another run later in the inning when Whitney Wills cashed in with a bases-loaded single to score Oberhalzer and make it a 6-2 game.

The Lady Warriors continued to battle back, though. In the bottom of the sixth, Schetter poked a one-out double down the right field line. Higgins then hit an infield single to second base to put runners at the corners. Kaitlyn Coffman followed by grounding into a fielder’s choice to send Schetter across the plate and make the score 6-3.

After a three up, three down seventh for Jackson, Warren went to work in hopes of a comeback.

Hailey Murdock led off with a groundball to short that was bobbled for an error. Riley Benson followed with a grounder to second. Murdock appeared to beat the throw to second on the play but was called out.

Kendra Lynch was next and took a pitch off her left side to get to first before Douglass drew a walk to load the bases with one out.

Jenkins settled in for Jackson and was able to get Kiley Lynch and Schetter to hit consecutive infield pop-ups to end the game and give the Ironladies a district title.

“We just didn’t execute when we needed to execute,” Pallini explained. “We had a bad inning and we just never recovered from it.”

Before the game, Warren’s lone senior Benson received her high school diploma from athletic director Fred Ruth in the infield. Warren’s graduation was Friday night at Marietta College, but the softball team would not have been able to get back in time due to the game.

Besides Benson, the team’s starting leftfielder, everybody else is expected to return for the Lady Warriors in 2014.

“We’ll take a minute to let this sink in,” Pallini said. “We’ll be back and ready to go next year.”