Sleep-deprived seniors worth the wait

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 16, 2002

LESLIE DYESS of St. Al steps on second to force out Enterprise’s Morgan Robinson in Game 1 of the playoffs.(The Vicksburg Post/C. TODD SHERMAN)

[04/16/02]St. Aloysius postponed its first-round playoff series with Enterprise-Clarke until Monday so it could have its seniors, who spent the weekend at a retreat in Tennessee.

For the Lady Flashes, it was worth the wait.

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Senior Allison Hearn went 2-for-3 with an RBI single and two runs, and senior center fielder Danielle Klaus had an RBI single and scored as St. Al (15-4) won the first softball playoff game in school history, 5-2, at Bazinsky Field.

St. Al travels to Enterprise today for Game 2 of the best-of-three series, beginning at 3:30 p.m. Game 3, if necessary, will follow.

“It’s just a step for us. We’ve got a bunch of steps, and we’ve just got to take them one at a time. We can’t afford to stumble on any of them,” St. Al coach Gene Rogillio said.

St. Al’s seniors left Chattanooga, Tenn., late Sunday and got back to Vicksburg around 9:30 Monday morning. Upon their return, they used some extra batting practice to keep from dozing off and it paid dividends.

St. Al collected eight hits and never trailed, as sophomore pitcher Laura Beth Lyons shut down the Lady Bulldogs (11-11).

Lyons allowed only one hit through the first five innings and struck out nine. She tired in the sixth and seventh innings, allowing two runs, two hits and a walk, but finished the job.

“We chased stuff upstairs for the first three or four innings,” Enterprise coach Joel Speed said. “I told our players if we just put it in play hard, we’ll make things happen, and we didn’t.”

The Lady Flashes took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Klaus walked and eventually scored on a wild pitch, and extended it to 3-0 in the third on RBI singles by Hearn and Klaus.

Hearn singled and scored on an RBI triple by Kelly Haden to make it 4-0 in the fifth, and catcher Candace Park scored Haden with an RBI single.

“It was our seniors that came through for us,” Rogillio said.

Enterprise finally broke through in the sixth, cutting it to 5-1 on a bloop RBI single by Leslie Speed, but Lyons retired the next two batters to get out of it.

In the seventh, a throwing error on a potential game-ending double play allowed the Lady Bulldogs to cut it to 5-2, but Lyons bounced back again, getting Enterprise third baseman Shannon Creel to lift a harmless fly ball into foul territory in right field. Amber Misiak caught it on the run for the final out of, giving St. Al a 1-0 lead in the series.

“It’s really important to get the first win, because once you get it that first one out of the way, you feel like you can win again,” Hearn said.

Getting a second win and advancing to face the winner of the Our Lady Academy/Enterprise-Lincoln series could prove more challenging. For postponing the start of the series until Monday, Rogillio had to give up the series-opening doubleheader that the Lady Flashes earned by winning their division.

Instead, the doubleheader will be played today at Enterprise. Speed said he felt confident heading back home. In addition to a two-hour bus ride, Enterprise’s field is used for both fast-pitch and slow-pitch softball and plays differently than most fields, he said.

“It’s a whole lot better for them to ride the bus for two hours than for us to ride the bus for two hours,” Speed said. “There’s not a field in America that’s got redder than we’ve got … It slows the ball down and doesn’t give you some of the hops you get on a field like (Bazinsky).”