OSCEOLA — As is often the case in sports, coaches sometimes choose what looks like a risky move to play the odds.
Sometimes you get burned.
Murray coach Danny Jensen elected to intentionally walk powerful hitter Jessica Self in the fifth inning to get to a Moravia's Mikayla Fritz with two outs. Fritz had gone 0-for-7 with a walk in her previous eight trips to the plate against Murray over the course of Friday's 11-8 Lady Mustangs win and over her first three plate appearances in last Tuesday's game.
Fritz got ahead in the count before smashing Bre Klein's offering that cruised right over the heart of the plate, depositing the ball over the fence in left-center field for a long home run and an 8-4 lead. That advantage held as Moravia defeated Murray 8-6.
“Self had gotten three hits last week and already had a hit or two tonight and I thought, ‘yeah I’m good with it,'" Jensen said. "We got behind 2-0, and Bre grooved one and she (Fritz) hit it out. I don’t regret it at all, I’d do it again.”
With the win, the Mohawks advanced to the Class 1A Region 6 semifinals at Martensdale-St. Marys against Martensdale-St. Marys Friday.
With the loss, the Lady Mustangs fell short of their state dreams once more, despite winning 24 or more games for the sixth straight season. (26 this season.)
Moravia put 21 runners on base, as the Lady Mustangs hurt their chances to keep the Mohawks off the board.
Murray scored two runs against Moravia's relief pitcher, Self, as grounders from Zadie Hatfield and Klein each scored a run from third in the sixth inning.
In the sixth inning, Moravia elected to walk Kayla Wookey, who had homered twice in Murray's win over Moravia Friday, to get to Kelli Romero. Romero took the breath out of all in attendance with her long fly ball to left-center, but the ball resulted in just a loud out, a few feet short of the fence.
Emma McDanel then re-entered the game for Moravia in the circle the rest of the way, and despite allowing Murray to load the bases in the seventh, including another intentional walk of Wookey, picked up the necessary outs for the win. McDanel struck out six and allowed five hits in 5 and 1/3 innings pitched.
Romero popped out and Kendra Boles singled to load the bases with two outs in the top of the seventh.
Emma Decker then hit a shallow fly ball to center, that had it hit grass likely would have scored two runs, but Mohawks center fielder Emilee Howard hauled in for the final out.
“We didn’t back it up inning-to-inning, but we did make a nice comeback. It just wasn’t enough tonight," Jensen said.
After falling behind 5-0 due to some second inning errors and some free bases from Murray starter Wookey, the Lady Mustangs called on Klein to take the circle and get them out of trouble.
“We started out mentally poor, we dropped the ball and threw the ball around in a couple places," Jensen said.
Murray plated four runs in the bottom of the third, as a Hatfield fly ball to left was dropped and two Murray runs scored to get the hosts on the board.
Klein's sacrifice fly and Wookey's soft single to center field each pushed home another run as Murray inched closer, but ultimately couldn't pull out the needed offense as five Murray errors aided Mohawks
The Lady Mustangs lose their lone senior, everyday starting catcher Hatfield, who's absence will create a spot that will be tough to fill next summer.
“We graduate just Zadie. She’s going to be very difficult to replace back there, but we’ve been saying that the last couple years. We’ve only had one-to-two-to-three graduates each year," Jensen said.
The Lady Mustangs' hearts were broken in the postseason again. The talented unit of athletes will have to get back to the drawing board and decide how they'll get over the hump next season.
Jensen said he'll look to the girls to decide what type of work they want to get in this offseason.
"We’ve got to get the bugaboo out at the end of the year."
Moravia 8, Murray 6
R H E
Mor 032 030 0 — 8 10 2
Mur 004 020 0 — 6 6 5
Mor: Emma McDanel 6K 2BB (pitched first 5 1/3 innings, re-entered in sixth), Jessica Self (6) 0K 2BB and Mikayla Fritz. Mur: Kayla Wookey 1K 3BB 2HBP, Bre Klein (3) 1K 2BB 1IBB and Hatfield. W — McDanel. L— Wookey (7-2). HR — Mo: Fritz 1. 3B — none. 2B — Mor: Callie Bejamin 1. RBI — Mor: Mikayla Fritz 3, Isabel Hanes 2, Anaya Keith 1, Emilee Howard 1. Mur: Klein 2, Wookey 1, Hatfield 1. Multiple hitters — Mor: Isabel Hanes 2, Howard 2.