The Marion softball team handed Hutchinson Trinity its first league loss Tuesday, but with a doubleheader split, the Warriors fell one game short of sharing the league title with the Celtics.
Marion finished Heart of America play with a 13-3 record. Trinity was 15-1.
“(The Celtics) have the skills all the way around,” coach Jennifer Felvus said. “They can defend the ball, they can hit the ball and they can pitch the ball. On the other hand, we can hit the ball really hard, and we forced some errors that happened because we hit the ball really hard.
“Our team has continued to grow throughout the season, and put more and more of that together.”
Marion won Game 1, 6-4. The Warriors used a three-hit, four-run top of the seventh inning to overcome what had been a 3-2 deficit prior to the final inning.
In the final frame, Chisholm Waner hit a one-out double, then Laura Savage launched a two-run home run to center field to push Marion in front, 4-3. Tori Shults hit a two-out single, and Marion scored two insurance runs before the end of the inning.
Trinity used a walk and a hit to score one run in the bottom half of the inning, but Marion held on to win.
“It was a huge hit to (Laura) because while I’ve known she was completely capable and have expected that from her, she’s been working through the mental part of her approach,” Felvus said. “Not only did she hit a two-run home run that put us ahead, but she did it on a full count.”
Earlier in the game, Marion scored a run in the first inning. Trinity tied the game in the second and took a 3-1 lead with a two-run fourth inning. Kourtney Hansen hit a single and scored on a passed ball in the fifth to make it 3-2.
Hansen was 2-for-3 at the plate and Shults was 2-for-4. Savage drove in two runs.
Grace Overton (7-4) was the winning pitcher. She gave up four hits and four runs (two earned) in seven innings, walking five batters and striking out four.
Marion lost Game 2, 4-3, in nine innings. The Warriors took a 2-1 lead after the first inning, thanks to three hits and an RBI ground out. But Trinity tied the game in the bottom of the second.
Marion jumped in front again when Alli Molleker hit a fourth-inning triple and scored on Kourtney Hansen’s single.
Once more, Trinity answered, plating one run in the fifth. The teams remained locked at 3-3 through eight innings.
The Celtics hit a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth to claim the victory.
“There were at least three opportunities that I was like, ‘All we need is a base hit right here. All we need is a base hit,’ and then some of my strongest hitters would go down,” Felvus said. “But we weren’t the only ones that saw the moment. Hutch Trinity did, too.”
Molleker went 3-for-4 at the plate. Hansen and Waner each drove in one run.
Grace Overton (7-5) absorbed the pitching loss. In 4.1 innings of relief, she gave up five hits and two runs (one earned). She walked two batters and struck out no one.
Coming—Marion (14-6) earned a first-round bye as the No. 1 seed at the Canton-Galva Class 2-1A regional. The Warriors were scheduled to face the winner of No. 4 Hillsboro (10-10) and No. 5 Canton-Galva (7-11) Tuesday at Galva.
The other half of the bracket featured No. 2 Chase County (14-6), No. 3 Moundridge (13-7) and No. 6 Inman (5-15). Chase County also had a first-round bye.
The championship was played Tuesday at Galva.