Tuscola softball at the Final Four: Notebook
EAST PEORIA — Kelsey Cleland would like a replay. The Tuscola infielder would welcome a softball rematch with Payson Seymour.
Instead, Cleland and the Warriors will return to action today against Milledgeville in the third-place game at the Class 1A tournament.
"Very frustrating," Cleland said. "This is a game we could have won and should have won. We were on her (pitcher Cheyanne Bowman) and if we'd had another inning, definitely could have gotten something going."
Cleland expects the team to find motivation in chasing a 27th victory for the season, a total no other Tuscola softball team has achieved.
"It will be hard to play for third and fourth," Cleland said, "but now we have to go for what we can."
Focusing on the positive
Tuscola's seven-game win streak was snapped when it was shut out for the second time this spring.
Coach Lenny Sementi is pleased his squad made a breakthrough with its first state tourney appearance.
"When I saw that Cumberland was in our sectional, I was worried about us making it," Sementi said. "These girls played three great games to get here."
In six postseason games — including the state semifinal — Tuscola sophomore pitcher Erin Walker has allowed seven runs.
Said shortstop Sam Ledbetter: "We played great defense. We stopped balls we let go by in the regular season."
Payson Seymour's Bowman pitched five perfect innings before facing Lexi Rogers to open the sixth. On a two-strike pitch, Rogers was hit in the leg. Freshman Morgan Little was summoned to run. She wound up on third base after two wild pitches.
Sementi said the Warriors' inability to sacrifice was costly.
"If we'd gotten a bunt down, that last wild pitch (with two outs) would have scored a run," he said.
No telltale signs
Center fielder Sam Kohlbecker didn't expect offense to be a problem for Tuscola.
"We hit well in (pregame) batting practice," she said. "I have no idea why we didn't hit. I'd guess it was nerves. We were over-anxious and didn't produce."
Payson Seymour managed three hits against Walker (22-4). The final one was Megan Boone's game-winning homer in the seventh inning.
"We were trying to get (the pitch) inside on her hands," Sementi said. "We missed the spot, but that girl had a good hit. She made a nice swing."
Five of the six umpires assigned to work the 1A and 2A state finals are men and not from the area. The exception is Clinton's Cori Smith. She worked the third base line for the Tuscola/Payson Seymour game.
Six photographs from the 2011 state finals adorn the cover of the 37th IHSA state softball program. Featured in one of the pictures is former Schlarman standout Brittany Hay, a sophomore at Georgetown-Ridge Farm. The Hilltoppers placed second a year ago in 1A.