Abraham Lincoln softball rallied back at the last moment to advance to the regional semifinal after beating Des Moines Roosevelt 3-2 at Gale Wickersham Athletic Complex on Thursday.
“These kids just don’t quit,” Lynx coach Ryan Koch said. “It’s just incredible how these kids compete. No matter the situation or how much we’re down, these kids just play hard and when they do that, good things happen.
“These kids just believe. This is a wonderful group of kids and their heart for the game is just beautiful.”
The Roughriders broke the ice with a run in the second inning off a wild pitch to go up 1-0. Things would remain that way as the defensive duel. Roosevelt made it 2-0 as another pitch got by the catcher in the top of the fifth.
The Roughriders tried to make it 3-0 as a runner tried to steal home, but was beat to the plate to preserve the 2-0 score.
The Lynx bats were unable to solve the riddle of Madeline Thomas’ pitching, who held A.L. scoreless through six innings.
Heading into the seventh Holly Hansen silenced the Roughriders in the top of the seventh as she struck out three batters to give Abraham Lincoln some momentum as the game went to the bottom half of the final inning.
“I think that top half of the seventh was big,” Lynx sophomore pitcher Holly Hansen said. “They still got a hit in that inning, but we found a way. I think it’s big when you have a good top half of the inning to set yourself up for the bottom half of the inning. We just fed off that energy.”
After no hits for the first six innings, Emma O’Neal got the first hit of the game for the Lynx and that opened the floodgates. After Holly Hansen was walked, pinch-runner Lilly Maddox got the Lynx on the board after a sacrifice bunt, making it 2-1 with just one out. Later on, O’Neal scored the tying run after Baylee Girres connected for a hit.
Finally, Kelsi Nelson hit an RBI single to bring Girres home for the game-winning run.
“I came up to bat and knew all I had to do was put it in play,” Nelson said. “I’m used to the pitchers getting up on me with the count, but I just knew I had to just put the ball in play. I got a good pitch and just found a way.”
As soon as Girres heard Nelson connect the ball with the bat, she just remembers running to home plate as fast as possible.
“I just heard her connect with the ball and just ran,” Girres said. “My first thought was like ‘oh gosh’ and then I just ran. Kelsi got such a good hit and I just didn’t want to get out. It was really exciting.”
With the win, Abraham Lincoln will advance to play at Class 5A No. 3 Johnston in the regional semifinal on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Des Moines Roosevelt (7-24) 010 010 0 — 2
Abraham Lincoln (16-19) 000 000 3 — 3