Kennedy softball falls to Lakeview 2-0 in state semifinals
Kennedy softball rode the momentum of a 13-game win streak into its semifinal matchup against Lakeview, but the Honkers stood resilient on the mound. Lakeview ground out a 2-0 win on May 31 in Mount Angel to advance to the 2A/1A state championship game.
Kennedy (19-4) managed just one hit over the course of the game, that coming from freshman catcher Isabel Berning in the bottom of the seventh inning. Otherwise, the Trojan offense was muted: no other hits, no runs, no RBIs and no hit-batters.
Lakeview junior pitcher Tyler McNeley struck out 16 batters and made no errors.
"Their pitcher obviously had control, hit her spots, had probably a little more speed than we've seen this season with the exception of Grant Union," Kennedy head coach Walt Simmons said after the game. "She was keeping us off balance … it was hard to get any base runners."
Kennedy junior pitcher Jenna Hopkins did well from the circle as well. While she gave up five hits and two runs, Hopkins also struck out 11 Lakeview batters. When Berning sent that double into left field in the bottom of the seventh inning, it conjured memories of when Hopkins hit a double against Weston-McEwen in the second round of the playoffs.
Unlike the game against Weston-McEwen, Kennedy could not get its baserunner around to home. A bunt by freshman second baseman Grace Talbot was snagged from the air for the out. Hopkins struck out swinging in the next at-bat.
"I was thinking if we could just get a base hit, we could move (Isabel) over," Simmons said. "Unfortunately, the bunt was caught and that kind of caused issues. Jenna's a pretty good hitter but she struggled today at the box. But it's tough when you're pitching and pitching well to get both of those going. I was thinking well maybe we could score one and make it interesting."
In the wake of the defeat, Simmons wanted his team to focus on the growth they made over the course of the season. After starting 0-2, including a 15-0 drubbing against Grant Union/Prairie City in the second game, the Trojans went 19-2 to finish out the season, snagging a league title in the process.
"I think they can understand that if they work hard every day, if they try to get better in every practice and in every game, good things happen," Simmons said. "They worked extremely hard from where we started back in February to where they ended up today, I didn't think we'd be there. I knew we had some pitching but other than that it was quite a learning curve for a lot of our players."
Kennedy swept the 2A/1A Special District 2 competition, going 16-0 to earn a bye into the second round of the playoffs.
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