Carson Solis was pretty mad when she struck out in the first inning of Beecher’s 9-2 victory over host Reed-Custer in Saturday’s Class 2A sectional title game.
She was even angrier when Bobcats coach Kevin Hayhurst took her out for a pinch-hitter in the fourth.
Another chance, though, came in the fifth. This time Solis turned it into the probably the most important at-bat of the game.
Beecher was leading 4-2 with two on and two outs when Solis fouled off eight consecutive strike-two pitches from Kenna Wilkey. On the ninth she whacked a two-run double to center field to create a lot more breathing room.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had an at-bat that long,” a smiling Solis said later. “I knew I’d have to do good at [that] at-bat because I’d get taken out again.”
Sydney Zupan went 3-for-4 (two doubles, three RBI), while Isabella Woolslayer, Sarah Crews and Madison Bainbridge each had two hits for Beecher (32-7), which will play Westmont in Monday’s Class 2A Rosemont Supersectional.
Georgia Votta had a two-run single for Reed-Custer (17-19).
Beecher never trailed, scoring three times in the bottom of the first on a two-run double by Zupan, who added the third run by scoring on a passed ball.
The Bobcats easily could have been chasing, however, had it not been for quite an escape act in the pitching circle by Crews.
In the top of the first, she loaded the bases with nobody out, prompting a visit from Hayhurst. After he returned to the dugout, she immediately struck out the next two batters on six pitches and got the third on a groundout to second baseman Savannah Lowe.
In the top of the second, she again loaded the bases, this time hitting two batters, before again pitching out of the jam via a popout, a full-count strikeout and a groundout.
“It was a repeat of the first inning,” Crews said. “It was all about adjusting. They did not take the strategy at the plate that they did the last time we played them [a doubleheader sweep by Beecher]. So it was kind of a shocker when they came out so different.
“It took a few innings to adjust, and then I think we picked it up and got better.”
During one stretch Crews retired nine batters in succession.
A Beecher error opened the gate for a Reed-Custer rally in the fifth that included base hits by Wilkey and Votta. The Comets had more opportunities as well, but stranding 10 runners in all would prove their undoing.
“The wind got out of the sails a little bit after those [early] missed opportunities,” Reed-Custer coach Ramsey Harkness said. “Inexperience is sometimes going to bite you, and in this situation I think that’s what got the best of us. But heart and passion brought us this far.”
Taylor Johnson and Zupan had hits behind Solis in a three-run Beecher fifth, while Emily Landis, Crews and Zupan allhad run-scoring doubles in a three-run sixth.