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High Schools

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Blazers’ season ends at semistate

– It ended quietly, the last chance slow-rolling easily down toward first, kicking up little tufts of dust. Southmont first baseman Madison Mills surrounded it. She stepped on the bag.

Over.

Southmont 1, Eastside 0 in the championship game of the Class 2A softball semistate, and if the door didn't slam shut on the Blazers' season so much as it closed with a whisper, it was only fitting. This was a night, after all, when the door barely opened a crack for either team.

As Eastside's Ashton Miller and Southmont's McKenzie Jordan silenced both offenses from the pitcher's circle, it came down to the briefest of openings for both teams.

Southmont slipped through its opening. Eastside did not.

“We left a few little things out there on the table,” Eastside coach Aaron Willard said. “That's just the game of softball.

“You know, we executed most of the time during the tournament. We just didn't execute quite the way we'd want on this night.”

It came down to a dropped fly ball and a single in the Southmont fourth, which resulted in Sydney Casteel beating the throw to the plate by a hair for the game's only run. That was all Jordan needed on a night when she struck out eight and allowed only one baserunner in Eastside's last three at-bats.

That was Erin Strock's one-out triple in the sixth, a shot over the rightfielder's head that left Willard thinking he should have more emphatically waved Strock on around.

“Deep down I wanted her to go,” Willard said. “But it's not Erin's fault. I probably should have got down the line a little bit more and got her. Who knows?”

The next batter Kerissa Lockwood, grounded to third base. Then Brianne Crager grounded out to short, and there went the Blazers' last real chance. Jordan set them down 1-2-3 in the seventh.

The Blazers' only other real opening came in the fourth, when Strock roped a leadoff single and Lockwood reached on a fielding error by Jordan. But with two on and no one out, Jordan got the next three batters, striking out Kailen Berry for the third out.

“Obviously looking back there's always things that you say you could have done better or that you could have done in a certain situation,” said Miller, who gave up just two hits and struck out eight. “Things just weren't really falling our way in this game.”

bensmith@jg.net

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