MENDOTA — The No. 6-seeded Mendota softball team came in as the underdog against No. 2 Orion on Monday,
After postponing the Class 2A Mendota Regional Championship from Saturday’s original scheduled date, it was all worth it as the Lady Trojans upset the Lady Chargers 8-4 to claim the regional plaque.
“Man was it worth the wait,” Mendota coach Joel Perez said. “Not a lot of people thought we could pull this off against such a good team, but these girls came ready, responded today after getting down and came away with back -to-back regional titles.”
In the top of the first, the Lady Trojans started things off with a walk from Paige Manning, who was followed by a Jenna O’Donnell double down the third base line to score Manning and take a 1-0 lead.
The Lady Chargers would respond in the bottom half of the first with starting pitcher Jenna Dirsh picking up a walk with two outs.
Tori Werkheiser then ripped an RBI double to left field tying the game at 1-1.
Grace Kerker gave the Lady Chargers a 2-1 lead with an RBI single to center.
In the bottom of the third, Orion added a couple of runs. Kati Kratzberg and Dirsh singled and then it appeared Mendota pitcher Mary DeFore struck out Kerker with a pitch down the middle.
But, it was called ball two.
Kerker made the most of her next pitch as she hit a two-run single to center giving the Lady Chargers a 4-1 advantage.
“That was tough thinking we were out of the inning with no runs scored,” Perez said. “But Mary DeFore and the girls responded well after that and got the out to give our bats a chance to get started.”
O’Donnell started the top of the fourth with a bloop single over the shortstop’s head.
After an Emma Boatman walk, Reiss Buettner singled to load the bases with no outs. Eve Herbert grounded out to first, but got a run across to cut the deficit to 4-2.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Lady Chargers got two runners on, but DeFore and the Lady Trojans’ defense got out of the inning with no runs added to the scoreboard.
Alex Barrera walked in the top of the fifth inning and Manning crushed an RBI triple to right field scoring Barrera and cutting OHS’ lead to 4-3.
O’Donnell walked and on the pitch, Barrerra scored as the pitch got away from the catcher.
With the game tied at 4-4, Boatman was up next and had a 0-2 count before ripping an RBI single passed first base to take a 5-4 lead.
Herbert made it 6-4 Mendota with an RBI single to center, scoring pinch runner Emily Elwell.
“Getting back to take the lead after being down was a big confidence builder,” DeFore said. “And with the defense playing the way it was behind me was huge.”
The confidence showed as DeFore and the defense kept the Lady Chargers big three of Drish, Werkheiser and Kerker from doing any damage.
In the top of the sixth, Boatman came to the plate and once again the count was against her with no balls and two strikes.
But that did little to phase the senior first baseman who again hit the 0-2 pitch, this time scoring two insurance runs for an 8-4 lead.
“I was nervous the first time with two strikes,” Boatman said. “But the second time, I wasn’t because I knew I could get a hit like I did the first time.”
Mendota picked up its first two errors in the bottom of the seventh on two well hit balls, but Kerker lined to Anna Bokus in right for the final out to give the Lady Trojans their second regional title in as many years.
For the game, O’Donnell was 3-of-3 with an RBI, while Boatman had two hits and three RBIs, Buettner had three hits and Herbert had two RBIs.
DeFore took the complete game win after allowing four runs on eight hits.
Mendota returns to action in a Class 2A Orion Sectional semifinal against Winnebago at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Brad Martin Sr. can be reached at 220-6939 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.