STREATOR — Morris softball coach Jen Lowery felt her team was just rounding into form as the postseason began.
The No. 5-seeded Redskins showed that early Tuesday as they took a two-run lead against No. 1-seeded La Salle-Peru in a Class 3A Streator Regional semifinal.
However, L-P rallied and Morris couldn’t respond as its season was ended with a 4-3 loss.
“It was a rough start (to the season),” Lowery said. “We were starting to peak right now. It’s a shame we couldn’t keep going. Playing (L-P) at the beginning of the year (and again now), it was a big difference. We were finally hitting our high point, and now it’s over with.”
The Redskins capitalized on an error in each of the first two innings to take a 2-0 lead.
In the first inning, lead-off hitter Madison Feeney reached on an error and later scored when Laney Torkelson ripped a double down the left field line.
Erica Gualandi led off the second inning with a single. She then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and took third on an error before scoring on an RBI single by Feeney.
“We executed,” Lowery said. “We put the ball in play. We made them make plays. We hit the ball well.”
However, things turned for Morris in the fourth inning.
L-P scored its first run on an RBI single by Abby Turczyn in the third, and tied the game in the fourth when third baseman Haley Wren belted a home run that bounced off the top of the left-centerfield fence and over.
“The home run, I think that was the turning point of the game,” Lowery said. “It tied it up and it was a new ball game and we got shaken up about it. … It was a game changer.”
The Lady Cavaliers (20-9) added a pair of runs in the fifth inning with the help of two errors and a bases-loaded hit by pitch.
“We preached as hard as we could patience at the plate,” L-P coach Mike Schmidt said. “We felt the pitcher was not overpowering to the point where you couldn’t go into the count with a couple strikes if you had to and still hit the ball. We started doing that as the game progresses. We were still on our front foot a lot, but we just started preaching putting the ball in play and not swinging at the first pitch.”
L-P preserved the lead with a pair of key defensive plays.
In the sixth, senior right fielder Katy Gealow ran down a deep fly ball to right-centerfield and then threw to second base for a double play.
In the seventh, Alex Kjellesvik ripped a harder grounder that bounced off Wren at third base, but Turczyn scooped it up with her glove and flipped to Wren at third for the second out.
Lauren Severson then hit an RBI single to make it 4-3 before Brianna Zeman struck out Laney Torkelson to end the game.
“I think we started getting in our heads a little bit and thinking too much,” Lowery said about why the Morris offense faltered. “We came out fired up, then as the game went on, we were thinking about it too much.”