New London's hopes of a return trip to state tournament dashed in regional
WILTON — There will be no return trip to western Iowa for the New London softball team.
The Tigers, who have been eyeing a state tournament berth ever since finishing as state Class 1A runner-up last year, saw the season come to a heartbreaking conclusion Monday night, falling 3-0 in the regional final to Bellevue Marquette.
As the score would suggest, lack of offense was the deciding factor in the title game.
New London made just two errors in the contest and received another stellar performance on the hill from sophomore Morgan Christner. However, three hits is not going to do it.
Best chance for New London was in the bottom of the sixth. Facing a 1-0 deficit, the Tigers loaded the bases with one out. Sami Koontz coaxed a leadoff walk from Gabby Tath (18-5 on the season) and was sacrificed to second. Christner reached on an error, leaving Tigers at first and second. Emily Parks followed with a single to center but Koontz, the team’s leadoff hitter and one of its fastest runners, was cut down on a perfect throw to the plate by the Marquette centerfielder.
Despite the temporary setback, New London reloaded the bases when sophomore Emma Pry walked. The dagger came when the next hitter Jorgi Krieger hit a sharp liner up the middle that was flagged down by Tath.
In two other innings, the Henry County team also had scoring opportunities.
A walk and a stolen base by Koontz in the first inning went for naught when Tath reached back to fan the number three and four hitters on New London’s scoresheet. Three innings later, the Tigers left a runner stranded at second.
Meanwhile, Marquette broke a scoreless deadlock in the fourth. Caroline Herrig, a .239 hitter on the season, banged a double and scored what proved to be the winning run when Liz Gonner bunted and no one covered first for the Tigers.
In the seventh, the winners tacked on two huge insurance runs on an error, single, fielder’s choice and another base hit.
Marquette, 11th ranked, take a 34-6 mark to the state tournament at the Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex in Ft. Dodge. New London, which carried a third ranking into the postseason tournament, finished the year at 25-5.