If Friday’s game would have been called after six innings, the Litchfield High School softball team would have handed Southwestern their first South Central Conference loss of the season. Unfortunately for the Panthers, the seventh inning went on as scheduled and the Piasa Birds came back from a 3-0 deficit to claim a 7-3 victory and remain perfect in the SCC.
Through the first six innings, the Panthers and starting pitcher Emily Senjan shut down the potent Piasa Birds, who were 15-1 entering the game. Senjan had 1-2-3 innings in the first, second, fifth and sixth innings, with Southwestern’s only base runners coming off a walk in the third and a single in the fourth.
Offensively, Litchfield made the most of the limited opportunities they had against Southwestern hurler Bailee Nixon, who got the first six batters out in order with four strikeouts. But in the third, Litchfield would find a gap when Bri Jeffers singled to right-center for the Panthers’ first hit. Nixon would get the next two batters out, but Senjan sent a fly ball over the centerfield fence for a two-run homer that gave Litchfield an improbable lead.
Mallory Beechler would get a single after Senjan’s bomb, but Nixon got the final out of the inning on a ground ball by Lizzy Luttrell to end the rally. Litchfield would go 1-2-3 in the next two innings, but added an insurance run in the sixth when Senjan doubled and scored two batters later on a sacrifice fly by Luttrell.
Then the wheels fell off for the Panthers. After being solid in the field all game, Litchfield had a pair of errors in the seventh, including one on the first at-bat of the inning. Southwestern would post seven hits in the inning, with two runs scoring before Litchfield got the first two outs of the inning on fielder’s choice outs at the plate. The Birds would keep plugging away though and five more runs would come across the plate before a ground ball to second resulted in the final out.
Nixon would get the final three outs in the bottom of the seventh off a liner and two strikeouts as the Lady Panthers’ upset bid came to an end.
Senjan, who allowed just one earned run and struck out five on the mound, would go 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two runs driven in for the Panthers. Jeffers and Beechler would have Litchfield’s only other hits.
Now 3-15 on the season and 0-5 in the SCC, Litchfield will take on Roxana at home on Monday, April 29, followed by road trips to Staunton on Tuesday, Vandalia on Thursday and Greenville on Friday.
April 26 at Litchfield
Southwestern 000 000 7 7 8 0
Litchfield 002 001 0 3 4 2
Southwestern IP R ER H K BB
W-Nixon 7 3 3 4 12 0
Litchfield IP R ER H K BB
L-Senjan 7 7 1 8 5 1
Multiple Hits: Southwestern - Megan Bailey (3-4, 1R), Bailee Nixon (2-3). Litchfield - Emily Senjan (2-3, 2R, 2 RBI). 2B: Southwestern - Bri Roloff 1, Megan Bailey 1; Litchfield - Emily Senjan 1. HR: Litchfield - Emily Senjan 1.
Record: Litchfield (3-15, 0-5); Southwestern (16-1, 6-0).