When it rains, it pours. Mt. Pleasant found that out the hard way in Saturday’s regional semifinal. The Panthers entered the fifth inning with a 3-2 advantage but Fairfield scored 10 runs in the final three innings to knock off Mt. Pleasant 12-4.
The Trojans started off hot. Shaylin Drish led the game off with a double and Cody Engle singled her in with nobody out. Hannah Simpson was walked to load the bases with nobody out, and a sacrifice fly from Peyton McCabe brought her in. Panther starter Sydni Coleman wiggled out of the inning and stranded two on, but it was 2-0 Fairfield early.
Mt. Pleasant struck right back in the bottom of the first. A leadoff walk to Makayla Cam gave the Panthers a spark. With one out, Anni Liechty launched a two-run homer to left field, and two batters later, Coleman helped her own cause with a double to the fence that scored one more. Momentum was with Mt. Pleasant through one full inning, with the Panthers leading 3-2.
Coleman kept the Trojans off the scoreboard for the next three innings, but Allison Rebling stayed solid in the circle for Fairfield. Rebling, in fact, was able to strand two Panthers on base at the end of the fourth inning, and that set up for the Trojan comeback.
McCabe again reached the plate with the bases loaded in the fifth inning, right after the second of three intentional walks issued to Hannah Simpson. The eighth-grader stepped up with one out and delievered an RBI single to left field. Destiny Gridley followed with an RBI singel of her own, and Jenna Norris made it 5-3 with a sacrifice fly.
Mt. Plesant narrowly escaped more trouble in the top of the fifth. Danielle Breen sent a soft fly ball to shallow left-center field. Liechty, Cam and Trinity Krabill all came sprinting on to catch the ball, and the three Panther seniors collided. Liechty hung onto the ball to make the catch, but the Trojans still led by two going in to the bottom of the fifth.
The Panthers had their best chance to get back in to it in the bottom of the fifth. Liechty reached on an error and Krabill got hit by the pitch, putting two on with nobody out. Rebling once again escaped the jam, though, and the Panthers were unable to capitalize.
The Trojans broke it open in the sixth. Fairfield loaded the bases with two outs, McCabe and Gridley each drew bases-loaded walks, and Norris delievered the knockout blow, sending a three-RBI double to center field. All of the sudden, the Trojans held a commanding lead, at 10-3.
“We had a couple of innings where we started to hit and we just kept hitting,” Trojan coach Bob Bradfield said after the game. “We got a little bit of a lead, held for another inning and then we scored some runs to put it out of reach.”
The Panthers once again put two runners on in the sixth inning, but once again, Rebling escaped the jam. A pop out ended another Mt. Pleasant chance, and it was 10-3 Fairfield after the sixth.
In the top of the seventh, McCabe delivered yet another blow. The eighth-grader hit a two-out, two-RBI single to left center field, bringing home two more runs, her fourth and fifth RBIs of the night.
“When I get up there, I’m like, ‘I have to get a hit,” said McCabe. “It’s kind of a do-or-die, two outs every time I’m up. It makes you feel important in the game, that you helped out everybody.”
Mt. Pleasant was able to get one back in the eighth, scoring one on a Samantha Broeker RBI double, but it was too-little, too-late, and the scoring stopped at 12-4.
“Hats off to Fairfield, They came out and did the right things,” said Mt. Pleasant coach Troy Mears. “We played well, they just played better. We didn’t kick ourselves in the butt. We put pretty good swings on them and didn’t boot the ball around a whole lot, they just hit it where we weren’t tonight, and Rebling did enough to keep us off balance.”
McCabe led the way for Fairfield, going 2-3 with five RBIs. Norris went 2-4 with four RBIs. Gridley was 1-4 with two RBIs and Engle finished 3-5 with an RBI. Drish and Rebling both had three hits in the win.
Liechty went 2-4 with two RBIs to lead Mt. Pleasant. Coleman was 2-3 with an RBI, and Broeker went 1-4 with an RBI.
The Trojans advanced to play No. 3 North Scott on Tuesday, July 16, for a chance at making the state tournament. North Scott walked off Burlington 4-3 in the other regional semifinal of the night.
For Mt. Pleasant, it meant the end of the season and the end of the careers of four Mt. Pleasant seniors. Liechty, Cam, Krabill and Lyndi Vantiger all played their final high school game.
“I hate that goodbye part to seniors,” said Coach Mears. “It just sucks. They come into the program as girls and develop into young ladies. It’s just a hard time to let them go, but I’m proud of all of them, and I wish them all the best.”