AURORA – Geneva softball coach Greg Dierks refuses to use youth as an excuse for some of the Vikings’ early-season missteps.
A pair of important sequences came back to hurt the talented but youthful Vikings in Wednesday’s 6-5 Upstate Eight Conference crossover loss to Waubonsie Valley.
The first came on a botched rundown between third and home that helped the Warriors tie the game in the second inning at 2.
The other came in the sixth inning with the game tied at 3. With leadoff hitter Amanda Lack on third after a double and passed ball, pinch-hitter Melaina Koulos – a Northern Illinois recruit – came to bat with a base open. With the bottom of the order batting after Koulos, Geneva starter Rachel Fanella got too much of the plate on a 3-2 pitch and Koulos lined a single to left to put the Warriors up, 4-3.
Waubonsie (7-5, 3-1 UEC Valley) would need the two insurance runs it scored after Koulos’ hit as the Vikings (5-3, 1-2 UEC River) strung together three, two-out doubles in the top of the seventh to pull within 6-5. But Warriors starter Shannon Hohman forced a Madison Keith flyout to center to strand the tying run, Molly Wrenn, at second.
“We’re not hanging on to any young labels. I told them when I picked the team at the beginning of the year, I don’t care how old anybody is, this is as experienced a team as we’ve ever had,” Dierks said. “These girls have been playing softball year-round for a long time. We are ready to hit top-to-bottom in the batting order and have girls on the bench who are ready to do the same. We have very high expectations.”
Despite the missteps, Geneva hung in against Hohman, a Miami (Ohio) recruit. The Vikings rapped out 11 hits, including the seventh inning doubles from Rylie Porretto, Kaitlyn Plocinski and Wrenn.
Geneva received steady production from its entire lineup, with the bottom of the order producing the first three runs. The Vikings might have scored more runs in the second had it not been for a pair of runners thrown out on the bases to end the inning. After a Hohman wild pitch, Jenelle Reilly was tagged out at the plate by Hohman before the pitcher whirled and threw out Sarah Baurer trying to advance to third on the same play.
Wrenn reached on an error in the fifth but was erased after Koulos snared an Annika Radabaugh liner and quickly threw to second for the double play.
Fanella kept Waubonsie off-balance for much of the game with a mix of curves and fastballs well-placed on both sides of the plate. Koulos, who didn’t start because she arrived late after interviewing for a scholarship, had to adjust to the crafty Fanella.
“I was prepared for the at-bat and had to adapt to the slower pitching,” Koulos said. “I just kept fouling off, fouling off and seeing what I could get. I closed my swing up recently and she threw me one right on the inside corner, and I stayed right inside the ball.”
Fanella, a sophomore and one of five underclassmen in the Vikings’ starting lineup, went six innings, allowing eight hits and three earned runs to take the loss.
McKenna Schimmel and Porretto each had a pair of hits and an RBI on the afternoon for Geneva.