WILLIAMS - The tears flowed freely from the eyes of Molly Greenfield and Jenn Willems as the two seniors embraced near the first base bag as the sun began to set here yesterday evening.
Soon, head coach Natalie Ostheimer joined in before quickly wiping her eyes.
They all knew it was a game they could have won and that's why it hurt so bad.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
NEH third baseman Jennifer Jeffers (10) is forced to race after a wide throw as Southeast Webster-Grand’s Kierra Eldridge slides in safely during last night’s Class 1A regional opener in Williams. SEW-G won, 5-1.
All Northeast Hamilton had to do was make the routine plays. But, sometimes, that's the way the ball bounces.
The Trojets made six errors - all on the infield - and watched Southeast Webster-Grand score one unearned run after another, as the Eagles jumped on the opportunities to score a 5-1 victory in a Class 1A Region 3 first-round contest.
Greenfield was on top of her game in the pitcher's circle. She allowed just five singles - two bloopers and three bouncers through the holes on the infield - and one walk while striking out three. But SEW-G (20-12) put the ball in play enough to make Northeast Hamilton (9-18) bend, and it ultimately sent the Trojets packing from the postseason.
SE WEBSTER-GRAND 5, NE HAMILTON 1
Class 1A Region 3 First Round
Monday at Williams
Northeast Hamilton000 001 0-1 4 6
SE Webster-Grand121 010 x-5 5 1
Molly Greenfield and Jenn Willems. Emma Clausen and Kierra Eldridge. W-Clausen. L-Greenfield. 2B-NEH: Andi Anderson. 3B-NEH: Jennifer Jeffers. RBI-NEH: Jeffers; SEW-G: Breanna Grossnickle.
All five of the Eagles' runs were unearned.
"If we make the plays we're close to winning that game," Ostheimer said. "But six errors isn't going to win a game. And I thought Molly threw great; I couldn't ask for anything more."
A fielding error in the first inning led to the Eagles' first run, and they pushed their lead to 3-0 in the second when Kierra Eldridge and Emma Clausen both raced around the bases to the plate on a throwing error.
Another botched throw in the third gave Nicole Williams the green light to score from second and put the Trojets in a 4-0 hole.
The sixth and final error put Anna Coder on the bases to open the fifth frame. She scored two batters later - giving SEW-G a 5-0 advantage - on an RBI ground out off the bat of Breanna Grossnickle.
Grossnickle supplied the Eagles only RBI.
"It's like we said after our last game, you have to play catch and get outs, and we didn't do that," Ostheimer said.
NEH hit the ball with authority throughout the game, but the Eagles were there to make the tough plays all night. They made just one error and it didn't cost them anything.
Jenn Willems opened the game with a shot to the warning track in center field, but Williams was there to make a running catch. Willems later hit a liner right to Coder, who didn't have to move a step at second.
It was a recurring theme all night.
"We made contact and we hit it hard," Ostheimer said. "To see them hitting like that was great because our goal this year was to improve our hitting."
NEH strung together four hits off Clausen, who went the distance to earn the win. She struck out two and walked one.
Clausen didn't allow a hit until Leah Meyer bounced a single up the middle in the fifth inning.
NEH broke up the shutout in the sixth. Andi Anderson blooped a one-out double just inside the chalk down the right-field line. Two batters later Jennifer Jeffers sent a shot the same way that one-hopped off the fence in right. Anderson scored easily as Jeffers trucked all the way around to third for a stand-up triple.
Jaidyn Timm had the Trojets other hit - a base hit to left in the seventh inning.
It was difficult for Ostheimer to let go of Greenfield, Willems and Jeffers as the fans trickled out of the park.
"I've had these seniors since they were in the eighth grade, so it's very sad to see them go," she said.
The Eagles advanced to Wednesday's regional quarterfinal round in Mason City. They'll take on 15th-ranked Newman Catholic (19-10) for the right to advance to within two wins of the state tournament.