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Softball Team Edged By Edwardsville Tigers 4-3

By J.W. Campbell, Sportswriter

Taking on a Southwestern Conference powerhouse on their home field, the Triad softball team lost a 4-3 decision to the Edwardsville Tigers on Friday,  April 5 in Edwardsville.

The Lady Knights held the advantage in the early stages of the game but saw their lead disappear later as Edwardsville struck for four runs after the third inning.

Triad opened the scoring in the top of the second with a single tally. After Payton Bode singled to start the inning,  a fielder’s choice off the bat of Liz Young eliminated the lead runner. With Kelsey Neace acting as the courtesy runner for Young, the Knights plated the first run of the game on a throwing error by the Tigers.

Triad expanded its lead to 2-0 in the top of the fourth on a base hit by Dallas Zirkelbach. Scoring on the play was Neace, the courtesy runner for Bode, who singled to start the frame. Neace advanced to second on a passed ball and stole second before trotting home on Zirkelbach’s hit.

Edwardsville squared the score at 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth on a two-run double to right by Sam Sanders. Her safety was proceeded by a base hit by Moe Kastens and a Triad error that allowed Kay Swanson to reach base.

Edwardsville grabbed the lead in the fifth on a two-run homer by Kastens over the right-center field fence. Scoring ahead of Kastens was Maria Smith, who started the rally with a one-out bunt single.

The Lady Knights made a bid to tie the game in the top of the seventh when they scored a third run and had the potential tying run on base when the final out was made. Ellie Moore got the rally started with a lead off double over the center fielder’s head. She moved to third on a fielder’s choice and score when  Caroline Lehan hit a grounder to third. An error by the Edwardsville third baseman put Lehan on base and gave the rally added life. Jenna Bohnenstiehl replaced Lehan on base when she hit into a force out at second. Bohnenstiehl moved into scoring position when Kailey Daniel was hit by a pitch, but the rally died when the next hitter was retired on strikes to end the game.

Lauren Dial was the winning pitcher for Edwardsville. She gave up an unearned run on a hit and a walk. She struck out  no one. Ryleigh Owens threw the seventh inning for the Tigers and picked up the save, even though she gave up a run on a hit and a hit batter.

Swanson started the game for Edwardsville, going four innings and surrendering two runs, one earned, on three hits.

Triad got a complete game from Young. She was touched for three earned runs on eight hits and no walks. She had one strike out in the contest.

Offensively, Bode paced the Triad attack with two hits and a run scored. Zirkelbach had a hit  and an RBI, while Lehan drove in a run with a fielder’s choice. Adding a hit each for the Lady Knights were Isabelle Lehan and Moore.

“I thought the girls fought to the end,” Triad Coach Kris Kleeman said. “We haven’t been in a high pressure situation too many times this season so it was a good experience for us.

“We have weaknesses in our game and Edwardsville exploited those. So we will continue to work on those to get them fixed.

“Someone asked me if I was disappointed with the game. I said absolutely not. I would have preferred a different outcome, but the girls have worked hard and it shows. The three seniors, Kailey (Daniel), Liz (Young), and Payton (Bode) continue to be leaders. The juniors, Dallas (Zirkelbach), Izzy (Lehan) and Jayda (Fulkerson) have stepped it up. We also have five sophomores in the rotation, (Ella) Moore (Jenna) Bohnenstiehl, (Sydney) Wildhaber, (Caroline) Lehan and (Shiane) Taylor. In addition to that we have two freshmen,  (Mallorey) Kessinger and (Kelsey) Neace, stepping in to high pressure situations as pinch runners and using their speed to run the bases.

“We have come a long way, but we have some more work to do and this group is willing to pay the price in practice to be better in the future. In fact most of them came to practice 45 minutes early on Saturday to get the diamond ready so we could practice. Then they stayed late to get in extra hitting. I continue to be impressed and I am super excited to get into conference play.”

Triad started the week with an 11-1 drubbing of Breese Mater Dei on Tuesday, April 2.

Playing on their home field, Triad garnered 10 hits in the game. Leading the charge for the Madison County Lady Knights was Young. She went 2-for-2 with a home run, six runs batted in and a run scored.

Daniel enjoyed a 2-for-2 day at the plate with two runs scored and two RBIs.

Zirkelbach went 2-for-3 with a run scored and a run batted in. Also collecting an RBI and a hit was Bohnenstiehl.

In addition to their 10 hits, the Lady Knights also drew seven walks against Mater Dei hurlers.

Young was the pitcher of record for Triad. She went five innings, allowing an unearned run on two hits and a walk. She fanned eight Mater Dei hitters.

The game ended on the 10-run mercy rule after 4 1/2 innings.

Triad was slated to face Jerseyville in Jerseyville on Monday, April 10. Results of that game were not available at press time. On Monday, April 15, Triad is scheduled to host Waterloo in an Mississippi Valley Conference game before welcoming Mascoutah to Troy on Wednesday, April 17.        

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