SENECA — Anna Baker’s pinch-hit, two-RBI double in the final inning of Saturday’s Swinging for the Cure Tournament, seemed sort of innocuous. It came with Putnam County leading the hosting Fighting Irish 5-0, and moments later the game ended with the Panthers getting the final two outs.
That’s when the fun began for anyone watching SHS Athletic Director Steve Haines trying to figure out what to do next at the conclusion of the round-robin tournament.
“I had to go back to my office to get the rules,” Haines said after Putnam County bolted ahead of Seneca after a grand slam home run by Vanessa Voss off of Nicole Pihl in the third inning.
It’s the perils of determining a clear champion at a round robin tournament — which is what happened after the last out on Saturday. It was a three-way tie as far as head-to-head went since Mendota beat PC 5-4 (in eight innings), Seneca beat Mendota 4-2 and PC beat Seneca 5-2, while all three beat Somonauk.
The second tiebreaker is runs allowed.
“I knew Mendota was out because they had give up eight runs,” Haines said. “But (Seneca) scoring those two runs there, we had to look at the team’s books to look at walks.”
Walks allowed was the third tiebreaker and, to the dismay of the crowd, when Haines announced it, that was a tie (six apiece) too. The result was that both Putnam County and Seneca were declared co-winners.
Ultimately, the true winner is St. Jude’s Hospital — the beneficiary of the fundraising efforts for the event.
“Last year the girls raised about five grand and hopefully we’ll be close to that again this year,” Seneca coach Dan Stecken said.
The six-game tournament is now five years old and has held true to similar features - with the most obvious feature being that all the teams wear the same uniforms with different team names on the front. It was that kind of parity that was on display between Mendota, Putnam County and Seneca on the day.
Seneca beat Somonauk 9-4 in the opener behind the pitching of Terah Coughlin and Kayla Haines. At the plate, Chelsie McCormick was 3-for-3 with two runs scored, Nicole Pihl doubled and Sarah Radtke homered for the Irish.
The Irish then beat Mendota 4-2 with Haines going the distance in the circle. She allowed six hits and walked one while striking out three. At the plate for Seneca, Lexi Trompeter had a double and two RBI. Erin Hovious also had a hit and an RBI.
The final game for the locals was the sixth and final game, which was marked by the grand slam from Voss — and the critical double by Baker off the bench. Baker asked if she knew what was at stake when she went to the plate with Lexi Trompeter (walk) and Kayla Haines (reached on error) on board.
“Not really, I wasn’t thinking about it. But before I went up to bat, I could hear the team trying to figure out how close it was,” she said. “It sounded like they were counting the runs.”
Baker then provided the two more that ultimately resulted in the deadlock for tiebreakers.
“It’s frustrating to lose, but the way I look at it, if we are going to lose we hope that it’s against a good team with a good coach like Chris Walker,” Stecken said. “All three of our pitches pitched well on the day. It just all came down to one bad pitch.”
Walker said that he’s fine with being named co-champions.
“I think it’s fine,” he said. “I have no problem with that, especially with the really good competition we see here. We just feel really good being invited here to play in this tournament.”
A tournament in which nobody walks away feeling less than satisfied.
“Yeah, this is great,” Baker said. “We’re really playing for St. Jude. We’re playing for them, though it is great to win.”