GENEVA – A seeing-eye single through the left side of the infield with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning scored the winning run for the Geneva softball team in a 3-2 come-from-behind win against Burlington Central Saturday.
Molly Wren’s grounder that eluded both Kristen Ahler and Tori Hervey, Central’s third baseman and shortstop, enabled Anna Geary to score from third base for the nonconference victory.
The Vikings (2-0), who had not advanced a runner to scoring position since the third inning, started their last at bat trailing, 2-0. Up to that point, Central’s Brooke Gaylord effectively shut down Geneva’s offense, scattering four singles and walking just two.
Rachel Fanella, Geneva’s starting pitcher, opened the inning with a single. After pinch hitter Emily Plocinski grounded out, Haley Orwig, batting for Madison Keith, coaxed a third walk out of Gaylord.
Geary then smacked a 3-1 pitch over the head of Rockets left fielder Courtni Neubauer for a double, the only extra base hit of the game, plating Fanella and advancing Keith, who was running for Orwig, to third. Geary, a junior, was 3 for 4 at the plate, collecting two singles in addition to her double.
“I wasn’t expecting anything in particular on that pitch. I was just hoping to put in in play,” Geary said. Rylie Porretto followed with a grounder to Ahler, who opted for the forceout on the batter. Porretto beat the throw, Keith scored the tying run and Geary advanced to third.
After Kaitlyn Plocinski grounded to first base for the second out, Wrenn came to bat and connected for the winning hit.
“The leadoff single by Rachel to get the inning started was a big deal,” sGeneva coach Greg Dierks said. “To get Anna up with a couple of runners on was important. She’s had a couple of good swings and she got a hold of a good one.”
“We were in the lead, but we never really played well,” Central coach Wade Maisto said. “We were not very effective all day up at the plate and it caught up to us at the end.”
The game was scoreless until the Rockets (2-3) pushed across two runs in the fifth. Both runs scored when Neubauer hit a ball in the infield and beat the throw to first base. Geneva's defensive lapses aided the play, and the rally.
“We smacked three errors into one inning and that’s going to cost you runs. Today we got away with it,” Dierks said.
Fanella, making her first varsity start, pitched a complete game, allowing only three hits, striking out four and issuing only one walk.
“My drop was working well for me,” Fanella said. ”I was throwing a lot of off-speed to keep them on their toes."
“Rachel pitched a great game out there,” Dierks said. “We have a lot of respect for Burlington and for her to shut them down – it was a great day for her.”
Gaylord, who took the loss, also went the distance. The senior struck out seven batters and gave up six hits.