CHAMPAIGN — Losing is never easy, especially when it marks the end of a season and for the seniors it is the end of their time at the program.
The Fisher Bunnies softball team’s season came to an official end after a 3-2 loss in the Class 1A St. Thomas More Sectional final game against the Villa Grove Blue Devils (23-12).
It was a hard loss to swallow for the Bunnies (20-11) considering they had a big offensive opportunity in the fifth down 3-2. The bases were loaded with no outs after Taylor May singled, Lauren Sommer doubled and a walk by Shelbee Owens. Blue Devils pitcher, Jordyn Ray, was able to get out of the inning striking out two and a line out.
“Just one big hit and I think we could have almost broke the game open,” said Fisher head coach Ken Ingold. “She’s a great pitcher. I thought Ray was kind of nervous in the beginning and then she settled down and started hitting her spots.”
Ray pitched seven innings for the Blue Devils, giving up two runs, four walks and striking out six.
Fisher took the early lead in the top of the first inning. Leah McCoy hit a two-run home run in the first inning to give the Bunnies a 2-0 lead.
The Blue Devils responded later that inning after Ray reached first with a bunt for a base hit. Ray scored after the next batter, Kyleigh Block, hit a triple.
Both teams were held scoreless between the second and fourth.
The Blue Devils ended that drought when Molly Mixel and Vanessa Wright were on first and second. Mixel walked and Wright hit a single. Maris Eversole hit a double with two outs, to score both runners to give the Devils a 3-2 lead.
Sydney Eichelberger led the Bunnies on the mound, pitching a complete game. Eichelberger gave up three runs, one walk and struck out four.
“I thought Eichelberger pitched a great game tonight,” Ingold saidl. Because they are tough outs. They battle. You are not going to strike out a lot of them.”
Ingold said that the reason for his team loss came down to leaving runners on base, pointing back to the fifth where they had the bases loaded with no outs.
“We got to get the ball out of the infield and make them make a play,” Ingold said. “We had too many strikeouts with runners on base. That was a big problem.”
This was the last game for Fisher seniors: Eichelberger, Sommer, Owens and May.
Ingold coached Eichelberger, May and Owens for four years. Sommer arrived on the team after her sophomore year.
Ingold said that he is lucky to have coached the senior players during their time at the Fisher softball program.
“I told them after the game they really made the coach look good the last four years,” Ingold said. “Their freshman year we went all the way to the state tournament in 2016. They won more than 80 games in the four years that they played here. It’s just a great group.”
Contact Ben Theobald at email@example.com