By RON PRESTON
LINDSBORG – It was going to be the first upset of the 4A Regional Softball Tournament as the sixth seed Abilene Cowgirls lead the third seed Smoky Valley 3-1 heading to the bottom of the sixth inning.
The early lead was not enough however as the Smoky Valley Lady Vikings scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take a 4-3 victory over the Cowgirls.
“This was a very tough, very tough loss for us,” Cowgirl Coach LouAna Koochel said following the game.
The Cowgirls jumped out to an early lead in the first inning when Shay Hoekman reached first on a dropped third strike and Kiley Crider hit a perfect sacrifice bunt that turned into a two base error by Smoky Valley. Hoekman scored on the play and Crider advanced to third on the error.
Crider scored on a single to right field by Carly Gassman to make the score 2-0 Cowgirls.
Abilene added another run in the third inning as Hoekman reached on an error and advanced to second on the play. Crider sacrificed her to third and Hoekman scored on an RBI single by Gassman to center field, making the score 3-0 Cowgirls.
Senior pitcher Aldyn Wildey took the mound for the Cowgirls and pitched a strong six innings, striking out nine and walking two batters.
“Aldyn pitched really well, she had five and half solid innings of work tonight,” Koochel said.
Smoky Valley was credited with 11 hits off Wildey with four of them coming in the sixth inning when the Vikings took the lead in the game.
“Smoky Valley strung some hits together in the sixth and that’s what beat us tonight,” Koochel said.
“It really stinks to play so well and lose at the end of the game,” she said.
In the Vikings sixth, Kasey Kolling led off with a double to center, followed by a fielder’s choice by Carly Kolling as Wildey threw out Kasey Kolling at third.
Hannah Morical followed with a single to left field and Carly Kolling advanced to second.
Ashley Foley then reached on a controversial no-call infield fly rule, as there were runners on first and second with less than two outs, to load the bases for the Vikings.
Maddie Klotzbach then tripled to right field driving in three runs to make the score 4-3 Smoky Valley.
Gassman led the Cowgirls at the plate with two of the four Abilene hits and she had two RBI’s.
“We hit their pitcher well. We had some good swings at her,” Koochel concluded.
Smoky Valley’s Eryn Stockman got the win for the Lady Vikings as she pitched seven innings allowing three runs on four hits and striking out eight Cowgirl batters. She was also three-for-three at the plate with a walk.
The season ends for the Cowgirls with a 12-9 record and it was the final game for five Cowgirl seniors, Kiley Crider, Carly Gassman, Michaela Olberding, Shay Hoekman and Aldyn Wildey.
Abilene (12-9) 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 – 3-4-0
Smoky Valley 0 0 0 1 0 3 x – 4-11-2
WP: Stockman LP: Wildey (10-7)