FALLING SHORT: Eagles top Cougars in regional championship game

Oftentimes, the team that generates the most offense with two outs comes out on top in the postseason.

While Trinity Lutheran’s softball team was able to pound nine hits against Lanesville, the Cougars didn’t get the big hits they needed down the stretch.

The Eagles (16-10) took an early lead and never trailed in a 5-2 Regional 31 win Trinity over Trinity. All of Lanesville’s runs came with two outs.

Neither team scored in the first two innings of play.

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In the top of the third with two outs, the Eagles put runners on base thanks to a Trinity error and a single by Abby Duncan. Katelyn Hurly followed with an RBI single before Danielle Haire plated a run with a hit to put the visitors up 2-0.

The Eagles added another run in the fourth. Again with two outs, the Eagles got base runners on with a hit-by-pitch and a bunt. Hannah Nunemaker then stepped up to the plate and hit an RBI single to extend the Eagles’ lead to three.

Trinity answered in the bottom of the fifth inning. Savannah Harweger blasted a triple to center field to score Morgan Gabbard and bring the score to 3-1. With the next at-bat, Jodi Goecker singled to score Harweger and cut the deficit to one.

In the top of the sixth, the Eagles got on base with a single from Haley Adams and another hit-by-pitch. Duncan would again come up clutch for the Eagles, hitting a two-run single to give Lanesville a 5-2 lead.

Trinity got two on base in the bottom of the sixth with one out but couldn’t get the hit it needed.

“There were at least two instances where we had runners in scoring position, and we just couldn’t squeeze out the hit,” Trinity coach Chad Goecker said. “It seemed like every time they got someone in scoring position, they squeezed out the hit. They scored almost all their runs with two outs. They hit a lot of gaps with bloopers.”

Neither team scored in the seventh, as the Eagles won a second straight regional title — the fifth in school history.

Hannah Deaton, Chloe Criswell, Harweger and Goecker all had two hits in the game.

In the circle, Deaton took the loss. She recorded one strikeout while giving up eight hits, one walk and five earned runs.

The Cougars will graduate Savanna Setty, Sami Newmister, Deaton, Gabbard and Goecker from the program.

“I’m proud of the way the girls worked all season long,” coach Goecker said. “We had great leadership with our seniors. Our underclassmen came through.”

In 2018, Trinity won its second sectional title. Coach Goecker said he though the team played well against Lanesville and came in prepared.

“Winning the sectional was a big help for us,” he said. “We stayed loose and had good practices all week. We had great approach at the plate. Mentally, they were prepared. They were ready to play. We just got beat tonight.”

The Cougars finished 10-10 on the season.

“It was a great season,” coach Goecker said. “The girls played well together, and everyone got along. We had a fantastic season as far as I’m concerned. We just weren’t able to get the rest of the piece of the pie. I’m really proud of the way they competed.”