Losses end Tanager softball’s tourney hopes

The Vermillion softball team won twice to advance deep into the state tournament in Sioux Falls last weekend, but a pair of one-run losses ended their season just a bit short of their state title goal.

The Tanagers rode Jenny Bye's 10 strikeouts and only three hits allowed to a 4-0 first-round win over Brookings.  Kayla Munger had three singles and two stolen bases.  Molly LeCates came through with two sacrifices that led to a pair of Tanager runs.  Jenny Bye, Ashley Ouellette and Sami Girard each had a single.

Vermillion edged Mitchell, 2-1, in the second round. Jenny Bye was again the winning pitcher, this time striking out six and giving up only two hits. Ouellette drove home two runs while she, Megan Chickering and Munger each had a single. LeCates contributed a sacrifice that produced a Tanager run.

A pair of critical errors doomed Vermillion in a 3-2 loss to Tri-Valley. The Tanagers had two singles and a run batted in from Carlee Sorensen and a single each from Lizzy Bye, Jenny Bye, Chickering and Beth Szymonski. Lizzy was the tough-luck losing pitcher though she struck out five and allowed four hits.

"We had several hits," Coach Lori Jerred noted, "but not at the right times."

So Vermillion had to face Mitchell again in an elimination game. Jenny Bye was on the mound and struck out 13, but the Tanagers could muster only one hit in the game, that by Munger, and lost by a 1-0 count in an extra eighth inning.

Strange and unfamiliar international rules allowed Vermillion to place Lizzy Bye on second base to start the top of the eighth inning. She advanced to third on a passed ball, but the Tanagers couldn't get the lead run across the plate.

In the bottom of the eighth, Mitchell started with its runner at second base. She was bunted to third and scored the game's only run on a hit up the middle with two outs.

Jerred said she was very pleased with the girls' season.  "Kayla (Munger) led the team in hits and stolen bases, and Jenny Bye is one of the best pitchers in the state," Jerred said, "and both were named to the all-tournament team." Vermillion also had a pair of athletes on the all-tourney honorable-mention list – Laura Sappingfield and Molly LeCates.

"I feel bad for our six seniors," Jerred said.  "All had very good seasons, and we are going to miss them greatly next year." The Tanagers will lose Munger, Jenny Bye, Ouellette, LeCates, Chickering and Sappingfield to graduation.

West Central won the championship, 4-2 over Lennox after Lennox had defeated West Central, 12-2, to force a second title contest.

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