Prairie Central Regional softball final

    For the past few of weeks, Prairie Central’s softball team has been playing rather well. In fact, there have been some tremendous efforts all season. The Hawks gave another on Friday in the regional championship game at home.
    But it wasn’t meant to be. Like many other contests, Prairie Central battled to the end only to come up short. In this case, it was a 2-1 loss to Olympia in eight innings for the championship of the Class 2A Prairie Central Regional.
    “I’m very proud of this group, I love them to death. The kids have come so far,” McGuire said. “Overall, we’re very young; we’re just knocking at the door. We’re just not quite ready to open it.
    “We had eight or nine games this year against teams like Beecher, Pontiac, Central Catholic, Olympia last time beat us 2-0. We’ve played so many of these very, very well and just didn’t get over the hump. It’s a step, it’s a process.”
    Little things were the difference in this game — the little bounce, the hesitation, missed execution and the wind were factors.
    The biggest factor for Prairie Central was Heidi Meister in the circle. Meister virtually duplicated her effort from two days before when she shut down Lexington. This time, against a much better hitting club in Olympia, Meister was able to get out of trouble with key pitches and some good defense.
    “Heidi threw another fantastic game and we got great defensive play behind her,” McGuire said.
    Sydnee Usherwood led off the Spartans’ second inning with a two-base hit to throw the first swing at Meister. The PC ace responded by getting a pop out on the infield, a strikeout and a fly out to center to leave Usherwood on second.
    Anna Hale made a great throw to the plate to nail Chloe Scroggins at the plate on a fly ball to get out of the third. Alexis Finchum singled to right fielder Hale, who then threw home to Kenna Skaggs, who fielded the throw and turned in time to get run over by Scroggins. Skaggs held on to the ball for the out.
    The Spartans finally got to Meister for an unearned run in the fourth when Usherwood scored on a ground out.
    Meister retired eight in a row before allowing a pair of two-out singles in the sixth, but she got a fly ball to get out of the jam.
    The problem Meister was facing was not having any run support. As good as Meister was, her counterpart was equal to the task.
    Kaelyn Leverson dave up a bunt single to Kate Winterland to open the game, and gave up a two-out single to Skaggs in the second before retiring 12 of the next 13 Hawks.
    Leverson looked to be in control, even though she benefitted from a strong wind blowing from right to left field. It was this wind that kept her 1-0 lead in tact in the sixth when Addison Casner blasted a shot to right that got caught up in the wind and was snared by Colby Burt to end the inning.
    “She hit it absolutely in the wrong place, but squared it up,” McGuire said of Casner’s rocket to right.
    There was one mistake where the wind didn’t help her, and that came to the next batter she faced. It was a 1-0 offering to Lindsey Hari, who was leading off the seventh inning for the Hawks. Hari blasted a Leverson pitch over the fence in left to tie the game at 1-1.
    Prairie Central missed one more chance, it came in the eighth inning and it hurt in a big way. Brianna Seeman drew a one-out walk and Winterland followed with a base hit to put runners on first and second. Hale tried to slap the ball but left it up and third baseman Mariah Maris caught it. She threw to Scroggins at second to just nip a diving Seeman for the double play that ended the inning.
    Olympia then won the game and advanced to its own sectional in the bottom of the eighth. Lizzy Davis led off with a two-base hit and Finchum was intentionally walked. One out later, Usherwood drove the ball over first base and Davis came around to score the winning run.
    Usherwood had three hits, including a double for the Spartans. Scroggins added two hits. Leverson struck out eight, walked two and scattered four hits in the circle.
    Meister fanned three and walked one. She allowed eight hits and two unearned runs for the Hawks (17-15).
    Winterland had two hits, Hari homered and Skaggs singled.