By Lori Gottula
The Falls City High School softball team had quite a week this past week, starting with a gut-wrenching loss to Fairbury last Thursday—a game that went two extra innings, and ended with a crushing blow in the bottom of the ninth. Senior pitcher Tayten O’Brien went the distance on the mound all nine innings.
Falls City was behind four to one after the second inning, but scored three in the top of the fourth. Catcher Molly Brown led off with a single, and was knocked in by shortstop Rylee Scholl’s out-of-the-park homer. Not to be outdone, third baseman Morgan Bletscher walked up to the plate and socked one out, too, sending the score to four-four.
The two teams then battled it out pitcher-for-pitcher and fielder-to-fielder, including three K-Os by pitcher O’Brien, five throws to first by Scholl and three by Bletscher, an over-the-head catch by right-fielder Emma Gerdes, and a diving shoe-string nab by left-fielder Bailey Gilkerson.
In the top of the ninth, Scholl drove in two runs with a double, and it looked all but over. But Fairbury had other ideas. The Jeffs scored three in the bottom of the ninth, and beat the Tigers seven to six. The agony of defeat was palpable, but the Tigers played a stellar game with very few errors.
On Saturday, Falls City placed second in its 2016 home tournament.
In the first game against Wymore Southern, the girls struggled at the plate in the first three innings as seven of the first eight batters sat back down on strike-outs. But the Tigers found their mojo in the fourth inning and scored four runs to Southern’s one. The runs were scored on hits by Brown, second baseman Bailey Armbruster, Bletscher, left-fielder Regan Deckinger, and first baseman Erin Brewer.
Defensively, O’Brien led the way on the mound for the Tigers. Bletscher had four grounders for outs as she threw to Brewer. Scholl had three grounders for outs at first plus a fly catch, Armbruster scooped five for outs and caught two flies, and center fielder Meredith Poppe caught two fly balls. Regan Deckinger also caught a fly in left field, and right fielder Bailey Gilkerson threw a runner out at first.
In the second game of the day, Falls City played perennial rival Auburn. At first, it looked like the Tigers would have an unusually easy game against the Bulldogs. FC’s first five batters scored on a single by Poppe, a walk by Brown, and singles by Scholl, Armbruster,
Bletscher, Deckinger, and Brewer.
In the top of the second, Scholl got on base with a single, and was knocked in when pitcher Bailey Armbruster scorched a double to left center.
Auburn scored one in the bottom of the second, so by that time, the score was six to one. Falls City crossed the plate again in the top of the third on singles by second baseman Sophia Gilsdorf, and Poppe, Brown, and Scholl, making the score seven to one.
Auburn tried to battle back when super-hitter Mollie Grant led off and hit a triple (after a double in the second inning). She scored on a single, and later hit two home runs to lead Auburn’s offense. The Bulldogs scored seven runs in the game.
Falls City’s other scoring frenzy came in the top of the fourth when Armbruster and Bletscher both took walks, and Brewer pounded one over the fence to send all three over the plate. In the top of the fifth, the Tigers added one more run on singles by Poppe, Brown, and Scholl.
Defensively, Bailey Armbruster led the Tigers on the mound, and struck out five batters. Auburn hit several fly balls. Gerdes and Poppe each caught two. Gilsdorf, Bletscher, and Deckinger all caught one. On the ground, Bletscher threw four scoops to first for outs, and Scholl had three. First base duties were shared by Brewer, and Megan Eickhoff.
The final score was 11 to 7, and Falls City advanced to the championship game.
In that game, Falls City unfortunately came out on the short end of the stick, losing to Cass County Central in five innings, nine to one. The Tigers couldn’t seem to find their bats as eight batters fanned the air that game. The lone FCHS score came in the fourth inning when Armbruster hit a single, then stole second, and crossed the plate on a hit by Bletscher.
Defensively, pitchers O’Brien and Armbruster shared the duties, and struck out four. Fly balls were caught by Deckinger, Gilkerson, Poppe, and Scholl. Grounders for outs were fielded by Scholl and Armbruster.
Coach Joe Dunn said, “The girls did a great job of battling all day.” That, they did. They played sharp ball all day long, and ended the day with a second place plaque, out of eight teams.
The Tigers also saw action on Monday night, in a makeup game at Wymore Southern.
Falls City’s varsity plays again on Thursday in a triangular at Auburn. The next home contest for the varsity is a triangular on Monday, September 19. The JV and varsity next play at home on the 22nd, against Freeman.