On Friday, May 10, the Litchfield Purple Panthers had nearly everything going their way, except the most important aspect of the game... the final score.
The Lady Panthers outhit Staunton 6-5 and had a solid performance from Emily Senjan, both on the mound and at the plate, but came up on the short end of a 3-2 decision against the Lady Bulldogs.
After a quick 1-2-3 inning by Staunton, Senjan got the Panthers started off on the right foot. The junior pitcher, who struck out two of the first three batters she faced, hit a solo home run to give Litchfield an early 1-0 lead.
Mallory Beechler would follow the homer with a single, but a fielder's choice, a strikeout and a grounder to second ended the early threat.
In the third inning, Staunton would tie the score at 1-1 when Kaleigh Pirok reached on an error and scored on a double by Savannah Billings.
But the tie didn't last long as Senjan led off the inning and jacked her second solo home run of the game to make it 2-1 in Litchfield's favor. The Panthers would get two more singles in the inning from Lizzy Luttrell and Trisha Seipp, but Staunton managed to escape without any further damage.
After Litchfield scored in two of the first three innings, Staunton's Tori Kierbach managed to shut the Panthers down in the second half of the game. In the final four innings, she gave up just one hit, a two-out single to Beechler, and struck out five of the last six batters she faced.
Still, Litchfield held the lead until the top of the fifth. Pirok led off the inning with a double, followed by Rebecca Caldieraro reaching on an attempted fielder's choice that left two runners on and no outs.
Litchfield would get the next two batters out, but an error allowed both Pirok and Caldieraro to score. Senjan would get the final out of the inning, but Staunton now led 3-2.
Both teams would go down in order in the final two innings as Staunton picked up the victory over the Lady Panthers.
Senjan suffered the tough luck loss, giving up three unearned runs on five hits and a walk. She would strike out four batters and go 2-for-3 at the plate with the two home runs. Beechler would also have two hits for Litchfield, who fell to 5-17 on the season and 2-6 in the South Central Conference.
Next up for the Lady Panthers is Carlinville, in the opening game of the Class 2A Gillespie Regional. Litchfield will meet up with the Cavaliers in Carlinville on Monday, May 13, at 4:30 p.m., with the winner moving on to play Hillsboro in the regional semifinal in Gillespie on Tuesday, May 13.
May 10 at Litchfield
Staunton 001 020 0 3 5 1
Litchfield 101 000 0 2 6 3
Staunton IP R ER H K BB
W-Kierbach 7 2 2 6 7 0
Litchfield IP R ER H K BB
L-Senjan 6 3 0 5 4 1
Multiple Hits: Litchfield - Emily Senjan (2-3, 2R, 2RBI), Mallory Beechler (2-3). 2B: Staunton - Kaleigh Pirok 1, Savannah Billings 1. HR: Litchfield - Emily Senjan 2.
Records: Staunton (9-13, 2-7); Litchfield (5-17, 2-6).
Class 2A Softball
Monday, May 13
Game 1: 4:30 p.m. - (9) Litchfield at (8) Carlinville
Tuesday, May 14
Game 2: 4:30 p.m. - (2) Hillsboro vs. Winner Game 1
Wednesday, May 15
Game 3: 4:30 p.m. - (4) Gillespie vs. (6) Staunton
Saturday, May 18
Game 4: 11 a.m. - Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3