Lyons had wrestled control of the regional championship softball game Tuesday in Hillsboro. The Lions scored four runs in the top of the fifth inning to go up 8-3.
The Lions strung together five consecutive two-out singles on relief pitcher Tena Loewen, with first base runners going first to third on the shots into the outfield. Four consecutive hits were straight up the middle past Loewen. Julie Sinclair came in and stopped the bleeding with a strikeout.
This approach was emblematic of how Lyons hit all game long. They had a hit in every inning, all of which were singles. Only shortstop Brenna McClure broke that pattern with a triple to lead off the third and a double in the top of the seventh.
Lyons was a strong all-around team. Second baseman Kenzie Galliher made three outstanding plays. Two were in the bottom of the third, both ranging right for over the shoulder catches, the second was deep into foul territory. She also had a 4-3 double play to end the fifth inning.
While Lyons pitcher Aubrey Hollinger was not dominant, she did produce the only three-batter inning in the game, aided by a double play. Hollinger had a fastball that exploded on the hands of hitters and change up at least 15 mph slower than that fastball. Hillsboro hitters started sitting on the change in later innings.
The Trojans were on the mat, but they weren’t knocked out. They responded in the fifth inning. Allison Weber led off with an infield single. Danae Bina hit her second home run of the day, she had a two-run blast against Haven, over the left center field fence. After a Bradli Nowak popped out to center, Madison Klein hit the second dinger of the inning in almost the exact same spot.
Suddenly the Trojan bench came alive, with Bina leading the way demanding players keep up the energy when she was hitting.
Sinclair shot the door in the top of the sixth, striking out the side albeit with a hit in between.
In the bottom half, Shannon Heiser and Kennedy Lucero led off with consecutive singles. Lucero hit a bloop single just on the fair side of the right field line. Heiser was able to advance to third and force a throw to the plate. Lucero saw the opportunity and advanced to second drawing a wide throw from the Lyons catcher. Heiser and Lucero both scored on the play, tying the game, 8-8.
“They did a good job coming back,” head coach Stephanie Sinclair said. “I knew they could come back.”
However, this was Lyons night. McClure led off the seventh with a double into deep left. Breanna Lutschg advanced her on a ground out to the second baseman.
Cara Johnson hit a clean single into right field to score McClure for the winning run.
Emily Jost had fluke hit in between the second and first baseman with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Sinclair grounded out to end the threat and the game, 9-8.
The loss snaps a few significant winning streaks. The Trojans state title defense ended without a trip to Manhattan. The team had earned four consecutive state berths before this season.
Seniors Erin and Tena Loewen had gone to state in every sport they played — four consecutive years of volleyball and basketball. Bina had the same streak as a junior.
“It’s hard to make it to state,” Stephanie Sinclair said. “This is the toughest regional we’ve been in. We haven’t faced teams that could keep up with us offensively.”
The Trojans defeated Haven 16-10 in the high scoring first game.