By Anthony Jones
A great season by Triad Middle School’s softball squad came to an end this past week as they competed in the SIJHSAA State Finals.
Prior to the games in the semifinal round and third place game, the squad had a dominant postseason. Dating back to September 22, the team won their Regional semi-final in outstanding fashion by a score of 16-1 over Collinsville. The next day, they kept their momentum rolling as they won 21-0 over Fulton to become Regional champions.
After advancing to the state quarterfinals, the Crusaders were faced with a tough opponent in Mascoutah. Triad pulled through however and pulled off a 5-3 upset win.
The Crusaders Head Coach Kaci Greer said of the team’s big win over their conference foe, “Our defense was outstanding in the Mascoutah game. Avery Grenzebach pitched a great game and was able to get the hitters to ground out or pop out. Thankfully, our defense had her back in that game and we were able to get key outs. It was also nice to see our younger girls, the 7th graders, step up during the playoffs as well. The experience they have gained for next year will be very helpful.”
Next up for the Crusaders was a battle with Carterville. Triad’s pitching, which included 5 innings from Jillian Monahan and 2 from Avery Grenzebach, allowed zero earned runs in the contest. Their pitching was not enough however as they fell 6-0 in the contest to the eventual state champions.
Triad’s final contest of the year came on October 8 as they played the West Frankfort Redbirds in Centralia. Errors bit the Crusaders once again in this contest as they went down 3-0 in the opening inning, all off of unearned runs.
The Crusaders began to battle back over the next three innings as Grace Zitta, Addison Hagarty, and Monahan all delivered key hits to put three runs on the board. West Frankfort also delivered a run of their own in the third inning to stay up 4-3, also off an unearned run.
Grenzebach also had another big game, as she finished 4-4 at the plate, allowed only three runners, and surrendered no earned runs.
Neither team would score again, resulting in a West Frankfort win.
Despite their losing in the final two games of the year, Head Coach Greer was still impressed by her team’s season, “Overall, the girls did well this season. Middle school is jam packed with games/tournaments and not a lot of practice days. They did well with buying into what us coaches were trying to teach them. I saw growth which is great for a coach when you are looking at the bigger picture.”
“It was a great accomplishment to be able to make it to the final 4 of the state tournament. This was my 4th year as the 8th grade softball coach. I had never made it that far. It was very cool to see the girls pull out an upset over Mascoutah in that first round game. We had been beaten by Mascoutah 2 times in the regular season before seeing them again in the playoffs,” the Crusader’s head coach added about how special the team’s postseason performance was.