Right hit, wrong spot.
With the bases loaded in the seventh inning and two out, Morris No. 2 hitter Lauren Severson hit an 0-2 pitch from Sterling pitcher Stephanie Kester right on the sweet spot on Thursday. The ball took off like a guided missile and appeared to be headed over Golden Warriors' shortstop Gabby Sandoval. Sandoval stretched her right hand high in the air and got just enough of the ball to pop it about a foot straight over her head. She then lunged for it, bobbled it and then lunged for it again before securing the final out of a 4-2 win by the visiting Warriors.
"I thought it was going to be a hit. I thought everybody did," Morris coach Jen Lowery said. "I think everybody thought that it was going to be in there. I think we tie it up right there if it falls in."
With one out in the seventh and the score sitting at the eventual final, Morris got back to back hits from sophomores Taya Torkelson and Leah Lines before No. 9 hitter Kelly Kolotka singled to load the bases.
"I told them when they came off the field before the last at bat that we needed the bottom of the order to step up and they did what I asked," Lowery said. "This team always has a positive outlook and they don't get down. Look at that last inning, they didn't stop fighting until the final out."
Which was made in a circus-like, juggling fashion.
"Actually, our regular All-State shortstop is out, and Gabby was stepping in and getting her first varsity start as a sophomore," Sterling coach Rick Henderson said. "I don't know how many times she juggled that one there. Three? I caught the ball all three times with her there."
Severson had taken a strike and then fouled off two pitches before connecting on the Kester offering.
"She made a nice play. It was an 0-2 pitch and it was a little inside. When I hit it I was thinking 'please just fall so we can move the runners'," Severson said. "When she tipped it, I thought it was going to get in there, but she made a nice play and came down with it."
"It was a nice hit," Morris leadoff hitter Maddy Feeney said. "And a nice catch, too."
After Morris gave up a pair of unearned runs in the top of the first inning, the Redskins came right back in the bottom of the first to cut the lead to 2-1. That happened when Feeney singled, was sacrificed to second by Severson and she scored on an RBI double by Laney Torkelson.
Lowery said that in games like this one, where neither team had been outside to practice much, it often comes down to who makes the fewest mistakes.
"In games like this, unearned runs and errors are going to hurt you," she said. "Especially against a team like Sterling. But for the first time out, for the most part I thought the girls played well."
"I think we're going to learn from our mistakes," Feeney said. "We played well, we just need to hit better. Once we do that, I think we're going to do better. For our first time out, even though we did make some mistakes, we did play well."
Morris pitcher Erica Gualandi took the loss. She went all seven innings allowing nine hits while walking none and striking out two.
"I didn't start off very strong today, but I know I had to work through it," Gualandi said. "Yeah, some of the runs were unearned, but I have to keep pitching, hitting my spots and trust the defense behind me. For our first game, I thought we did well."
Two of the four runs allowed by Morris were unearned.
Offensively for Morris, Feeney was 2-for-4 and Taya Torkelson was also 2-for-4. Laney Torkelson had the first inning double and she also walked twice.