GRISWOLD — The East Mills softball season came to an end last Tuesday with the 11-6 loss to Griswold in the opening round of Class 2A regionals, but they didn’t go down without a fight.
The Wolverines (7-16 overall, 5-7 in the conference) came from six runs down in the bottom of the seventh to force the game into extra innings.
“The girls showed tremendous heart and character,” East Mills Coach Jeff Laughlin said. “It would have been so easy to give up down 6-0. When you’re down 6-0, that’s when you come up and you do just start swinging.”
Griswold pitcher Brooke Hansen held the Wolverines hitless through the bottom of the seventh and allowed just two base runners to that point – both via walks.
“For us to show patience, that was pretty impressive, I thought,” Laughlin said.
In the bottom of the seventh, East Mills broke up the no-hitter inning and the shutout as well, scoring three times three straight bases loaded walks and adding another on a Jessika Lynn RBI single.
“That helped us to relax,” Laughlin said. “The longer you’re out here as a pitcher in this heat, you get a little sweaty, it’s hard to get as good of a grip [on the ball].”
Kendra Croghan’s RBI groundout got East Mills within a run at 6-5.
Two batters later, Joni Laughlin hit a RBI double to tie the game and put runners in scoring position for the possible go-ahead run. But East Mills didn’t get a chance as they struck out in the next at-bat, forcing the game into extra innings.
Griswold responded in the top of the eighth by getting the leadoff batter Hannah Willms on base via walk. Willms was moved over with a sacrifice and eventually scored on a Morgan Godwin’s groundout.
“It’s hard to come back twice,” Laughlin said.
runners on base several batters later, Kinzey Nicklaus hit a three-run double to give Griswold a 10-6 lead. Nicklaus would score on the next at-bat courtesy of an RBI single by Hannah Misner.
The Wolverines were able to get runners on in their half of the inning, but weren’t able to capitalize.
Griswold had jumped out to an early 4-0 lead with a run in the second and three more in the third. They tacked on two runs in the top of the seventh to lead 6-0.
“Hitting is contagious with us and unfortunately we didn’t get it going early,” Laughlin said. “If the top of our order hits, we all hit.”
Griswold advanced to the Class 2A, Region 8 quarterfinals, where they lost to Treynor 6-0 last Wednesday.
East Mills finishes the 2013 season with a 7-16 record. The Wolverines’ record is an improvement from last season’s 2-24 season.
“I think they can be very proud of where we’ve come in the last couple of years,” Laughlin said. “We went from not winning a game in a long time to this year, not going by where we finished, but we were equal with anybody in the conference. We can play with anybody on a given night.”