MARENGO – Abri Hale’s cut was enough to keep the Sterling softball team’s season alive and well.
The sophomore right fielder’s two-out, two-strike triple drove in Nadia Trujillo in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Golden Warriors to an 8-7 victory against Burlington Central in a Class 3A Marengo Sectional semifinal Tuesday.
The game-deciding inning did not get off to a promising start for the Golden Warriors.
Hale, who was 0 for 3 at that point, batted with one on and two out and hit a two-strike offering from Central pitcher Brooke Gaylord into the left-center field gap, allowing the winning run to score.
“I tried jamming her,” Gaylord said, “and I just didn’t get it in enough. I got too worried about hitting her, and it was just right there for her to hit.”
Gaylord, a senior who will play softball at Loras College next season, had a monster offensive game for BC (23-10). She went 3 for 4 with a pair of two-run home runs and an RBI double.
With her team trailing 7-5 with two outs in the top of the seventh, she hit a two-run shot to straightaway center field to tie the score at 7.
“I just concentrated on making contact,” Gaylord said. “High pitches are my thing, so when I saw it there, I was going to swing whether it was a strike or not. That was my best shot of getting a hit.”
Central grabbed a 4-0 lead in the top of the first. Brooke Gaylord delivered the first blow, a two-run homer to right. After a double by Emily Kisch, Kassidy Gaylord, a junior and Brooke’s younger sister, hit a two-run shot to left.
Sterling drew to within 4-3 in the third. In the fourth, Central coach Wade Maisto pulled Brooke Gaylord from the circle in favor of Kisch. The move quickly backfired, as the first five batters Kisch faced reached base, helping Sterling take a 7-5 lead.
Brooke Gaylord re-entered the game and needed just one pitch to retire Gabby Sandoval and end the inning, but the damage had been done.
“I’m not going to second-guess that, because they were starting to hit Brooke,” Maisto said when asked about bringing in Kisch. “She had gone through the order twice, and I thought it was a perfect time to make the switch, to give a different look.”
Brooke Gaylord took the loss. She allowed three runs – two earned – seven hits, five walks and hit one batter. She struck out three.