Delavan-Darien softball wins regional title over Turner
BELOIT--Delavan-Darien won one playoff rematch to earn a crack at another.
Jennah Speth pitched a complete-game three-hitter and scored the winning run in the top of the seventh inning. She helped the Comets softball team edge host Beloit Turner 2-1 in a WIAA Division 2 regional final game Thursday afternoon.
The Comets beat the Trojans in a regional final for the second straight year and will face McFarland on Tuesday in the sectional semifinals in a rematch from a year ago.
“We really needed to clutch up, make the clutch hits, and that’s what we did,” said Speth, a sophomore who struck out seven batters and walked none. “We came in and made little adjustments throughout the game and pulled it together at the end.”
Thursday’s game featured a battle between two of southern Wisconsin’s best pitchers, with Speth squaring off against Turner’s Kelsie Packard.
They didn’t disappoint, as neither allowed an earned run. Packard gave up six hits, struck out 10 and walked two in a tough-luck loss.
“(Battling) is something we’ve done all season, and I’m glad to see it pay off,” Delavan-Darien coach Hank Johnson said. “We were playing a heck of a Turner team, and Kelsie is very good. She had us swinging, but we figured out we needed to put the ball in play and see what happens.”
After both teams left the bases loaded in the first inning, the pitchers settled in, each facing just 11 hitters between the second and fourth innings.
Delavan-Darien broke through in the top of the fifth when junior Cindy Crawford reached on a one-out error, moved up on freshman Morgyn DeLara’s single and took third on a walk to Speth.
Junior cleanup hitter Brooke Boss came to the plate with the bases loaded and laid down a bunt single to make it 1-0.
“I was really confused at first,” Boss said of getting the signal to bunt. “I double-looked at (Johnson) but was then like, ‘OK, I guess.’ I used to bunt a lot, but they moved me to the four-spot.”
Turner answered with its own unearned run in the bottom of the fifth. Junior Katrin Crall reached on a one-out error, stole second base and scored on Packard’s two-out, well-struck single to right field.
In the top of the seventh, DeLara—who was 2-for-4—hit a one-out single to right field and moved to second on Speth’s single to left. DeLara was cut down at third on a fielder’s choice, leaving the Comets with runners at first and second with two out.
Crall made a great stab to snare freshman Hunter Huber’s grounder to third base, but the throw sailed over the first baseman’s head. Speth scored all the way from second base.
“It means a lot to bring (senior Emily Moyer) back to this (sectional semifinal) game and try to go farther than what we did last year,” said Speth of the Comets, who have just one senior and two juniors on their roster. “I feel like Delavan doesn’t really get recognized for its sports. (We’re) getting people to know our name.”
The Comets will attempt to avenge last year’s 5-1 loss to McFarland in a sectional semifinal rematch at Turner at 5 p.m. Tuesday.