MANTENO – It is never a fun time when a team’s season comes to an end. Sometimes, though, when you look hard enough, there is a silver lining. And, with Morris softball team’s 6-4 loss Saturday in the title game of the Class 3A Manteno Sectional, there were any number of positives to take away.
To start with, the battery of freshman pitcher Abby Burns and sophomore catcher Emily Moore will give the next two years of Redskins teams a starting point that will be the envy of most every team they face. Add to that the returning middle infield of junior Leah Lines and classmate second baseman Taya Torkelson, and anything hit up the middle will be a problem for Morris opponents.
Case in point, the play made by Lines in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Redskins had cut the Manteno lead to 5-4 in the top half of the inning, a rally Lines started with a leadoff double to left. In the bottom of the inning, Manteno’s Carly Trepanier popped a ball to short left field. Lines drifted back for it and tripped over the lip of the outfield. She fell to her backside, but kept her concentration on the ball to make the catch and keep the speedy Panther’s leadoff hitter off base.
Also, the two players were instrumental in the Morris offense all day. Torkelson and Lines each had reached base twice, with Lines scoring both times and Torkelson driving in a run.
“Both Leah and Taya were huge today,” Morris coach Jen Lowery said. “They came through when we needed them to.
“Abby and Emily both played very well all year and got nothing but great experience that will help them in the years to come. They will definitely learn from this game and from the experience of being in a sectional final.”
Lowery did not downplay the role the team’s seniors played, however. She had nothing but praise for the graduating Maddy Feeney, Lauren Severson, Kelly Kolotka, Kellen Bernickus and Alex Cook.
“This is one of the greatest group of kids I have ever coached,” Lowery said. “They never gave up and leave it all on the field. It will be rough losing those five seniors. They set the bar high with expectations, both on and off the field. They set the tone with their attitude, and they are such positive role models for the younger players. I really hope the younger players are following the seniors’ lead on that.
“The biggest thing for them is that they had fun doing what they did. They never took the fun out of it. You don’t go work softball, you go play softball, and these girls never forgot to go out and play.
“Then to make it to the final 16 teams in Class 3A, there are a lot of kids in the state that would want to be in our shoes. I am very proud of all these girls.”