Softball narrowly misses out on State final

Danika Stilwell, Editor-in-Chief

After falling just short to Webster Groves 4-3 in the State Semifinals on Oct. 24, the softball team has one goal for their next season: make the State Championship game.

Coach Doug Robinson said both him and his team have had the goal of reaching the final four for the past few years, and although it was a great achievement, they want to go further next season,

“Accomplishing a goal is always satisfying.  It felt great to reach this point and I knew the girls were capable of achieving the goal of reaching the final four.  It’s been a goal for the last four years and they did it. I’m more than proud of these girls and their determination,” Robinson said. “As difficult as it may be, our goal for next year will be the final four and one game more.”

The Falcons began the game with an early lead in the top of the first after a leadoff home run by sophomore Abby Ulsas. This run was quickly matched in the bottom of the inning by Webster, but the Statesmen were held to a tie after junior center fielder Grace McGinnis threw out a base runner at home. Both teams continued to play strong defense and left the second frame scoreless. In the top of the third inning, the Falcons took back the lead with a two out rally. A single by senior Lauren Perone was followed by RBI doubles by juniors Chloe Rhine and Camryn Kessler. The Statesmen made it 3-2 in the bottom half of the inning after a solo homerun. The Falcons kept their one run lead until the bottom of the sixth, when a single brought Webster home, tying the game up at 3-3. The Falcons’ strong defensive performance throughout the game was led by junior Kyleigh Villarreal on the mound. With eight strikeouts and only one free base given, Villarreal said she was pleased with her defensive performance despite the loss.

“I felt that I pitched a good game and I am not disappointed at all. At this level of play I expected a very competitive game; both teams had their sights set on advancing to State,” Villarreal said. 

In addition to solid pitching, the Falcons made a lot of impressive plays in the field. Shortstop Rhine made diving catches in both the fifth and seventh innings, helping the team’s effort to prevent Webster Groves from taking the lead. Rhine said that although she felt her offensive game could have been better, she didn’t let it affect her in the field and still positively contributed to the team’s effort. 

“Everyone played a role in that game. For me personally, I didn’t have the greatest offensive day and that happens it’s softball. I don’t let that affect the defensive side because defense wins championships. I know my role in the field is to get everything that is hit my way and I can say confidently I accomplished that,” Rhine said.

The Falcons managed to hold the Statesmen in the bottom of the seventh, pushing it into extra innings. They held them again in the eighth, but Webster was able to score in the bottom of the ninth, ending both the game and the Falcons’ season. Rhine said that this was one of the closest and most well-played games of her career.

Robinson said that he could not be more proud of the way the girls played.

“Everything was there, as far as intensity and focus, for a game of that magnitude.  The girls put their heart and soul on the field that day.  I’ve never been more proud of their performance than I was that day,” Robinson said.

Perone said even though her Summit softball career ended on a loss, she is incredibly proud of her team. 

“Being a three year captain on varsity has been one of my favorite things about my high school experience and I would not trade one minute of it for anything,” Perone said. “I am extremely proud of each and every girl on the team and even though we did not win the first place State title, we finished top three in the state which is something not many people can say. I wish it could have ended a little differently but my career ending in the final four game was one of the best ways to go out.”