Hopkins falls short in regional semifinal against Buchanan
The last time Hopkins appeared in a softball regional contest, the seniors on this year’s team were finishing up seventh grade.
In other words, the Vikings’ Division 3 regional semifinal against Buchanan on Saturday, June 10, was uncharted territory for coach Casey Schoenborn’s squad.
As such, Schoenborn figured nerves could be an issue, particularly at the start of the game.
“This was a big stage for these girls and there was bound to be some nervousness,” she said. “They’d never played at this level before. It was something new for all of them, so I knew they were probably going to be a little nervous, especially at the start of the game.”
Unfortunately for the Vikings and their fans, Schoenborn’s inclination proved to be correct as Hopkins allowed two unearned runs in the first inning and another in the second to fall behind 3-1.
That was more than enough for Buchanan and pitcher Sammi Luzadre, who worked the complete game and led the Bucks to the 5-1 victory.
Hopkins ended the season at 26-13.
“Seeing a season come to an end is always tough, but it was a great season,” Schoenborn said. “This is a great group of girls. We had fun each day, whether it was in a game or at practice. It was just a really fun group and I’ll always remember this season for that.”
This game also started on a fun note for the Vikings, who scored a two-out run in the top of the first inning to go up 1-0.
Kylan Winchester scored the run after drawing a walk, moving to second on a single by Hannah Van De Roovaart and coming home on an infield single by Kristi Leonard.
The lead didn’t last, however.
Buchanan leadoff hitter Jayla Bibbs reached base on a bunt single against Hopkins starter Kelsey Dusseau and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Luzadre then drew a walk before an error allowed Bibbs to score.
Luzadre then came home on a wild pitch, giving Buchanan a 2-1 lead.
“We just had some jitters on defense and made some mistakes we usually don’t make,” Schoenborn said. “It wasn’t for a lack of effort. If anything, I think some of the girls were probably trying too hard, wanting so badly to make the play.”
The Bucks made it 3-1 in the bottom of the second as Kaitlyn Lukkarila led off with a single and later scored on another Hopkins error.
At the plate, the Vikings had at least one base runner in each inning from the second to the fifth and they put a runner in scoring position in the third, fourth and fifth frames.
Each time, though, Hopkins failed to plate the run.
In the third inning, Van De Roovaart delivered a two-out triple that caromed off the fence but was left stranded when Leonard grounded out to the pitcher.
The fourth inning saw Kamryn Pals come through with a two-out single before Courtney Dusseau reached base on an error to put runners on first and second. But a lineout to second base by Lexi Merren brought the inning to an end.
The scoring chance in the fifth inning came when Winchester was hit by a pitch with one out and moved to second base on a single by Leonard with two outs. Kelley Kloska then hit the ball hard, but the result was a fly out to right field to close out the inning.
“I thought we did okay at the plate,” Schoenborn said. “We had runners. We just weren’t able to come up with the big hit that could have given us some momentum.”
Luzadre retired the Vikings in order in both the sixth and the seventh innings to end the game.
The Bucks tacked on their first two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a two-run double by Luzadre.
And while disappointed with the result, Schoenborn was more disappointed with the fact that she has to say good-bye to this year’s seniors.
“It’s a great group of girls,” she said. “They’ve meant so much to this program and to me. It’s going to be tough to replace them. But our JV team was pretty good this season and both of the pitchers I used today were freshmen, so we’ll still have some good talent.”