BEECHER — One year removed from advancing to the Sweet 16 before being eliminated by St. Joe-Ogden, the Seneca softball team lost its IHSA playoff opener on Wednesday in Beecher. The Lady Irish lost 9-4 to Wilmington in a game in which the Wildcats took advantage of 11 walks, six wild pitches and two errors while recording just four hits.
Seneca fell behind 2-0 in the top of the first inning and really never was in the game for the remaining six innings.
“It was a tough start,” Seneca coach Dan Stecken said. “We went one and done tonight and I think it’s because the start of the game was not what we wanted.”
Wilmington leadoff hitter Ashley Adermann walked to start the contest and she stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI double by Miranda Southall. Southall then was plated after stealing third and scoring on a wild pitch.
The Wildcats then scored three more in the second on a hit batsman, walk, single and a three-base error on the Seneca left fielder.
“It wasn’t the best start,” Seneca senior Erin Hovious said. “We have a good team, we just couldn’t get it done today. We had a couple of days off since our last game and, even though we practiced, we had no live-game situations. We were just not into it today. It was not our day.”
Wilmington scored two more in the top of the third to lead 7-0 before Seneca finally got on the board. That came when Jade Wilson and Nicole Pihl singled back to back, were sacrificed to third by Chelsie McCormick and Wilmington pitcher Paula Tupper threw a wild pitch.
Seneca pitcher Pihl then held Wilmington scoreless in the fourth inning but the Wildcats made it 9-1 by scoring two more times in the fifth.
“She just struggled today,” Stecken said. “Really, Wilmington only had a couple of solid hits, but we can’t give up the free base like we did. A good team like Wilmington is going to take advantage of that.”
On the other side of the diamond, Tupper recovered, and heading into the sixth inning had allowed just four hits.
“We weren’t hitting the way we usually do,” Hovious said. “We did not hit today like we can.”
That sort of changed in the sixth inning when Seneca scored three runs on five hits, but Tupper wiggled off the hook, leaving the score at its eventual final.
Seneca finishes the season with a 24-7 record and will lose six seniors to graduation this spring.
“We had six great seniors, five who were in the program all four years and one who was a transfer,” Stecken said. “I’m proud of the girls’ improvement and their commitment to this program.”
Hovious says that she hopes the team will be remembered for what the Irish did do and not what they didn’t do.
“I think people underestimated us a bit coming into the year,” she said. “But we got a conference championship and it had been a long time since we had done that. I think the seniors on the team made its mark.”