A large crowd attended the opening game of regionals at South Christian, and many of them thought they knew how this story would end. Although South was hosting, they were the visitors and led off the game with a quick one-two-three inning. Then the leadoff hitter for Allendale, the 8th-ranked team in the state, drew a walk. The writing seemed to appear on the wall.
However, a sure base hit by the second batter was robbed by second baseman Alyssa Barbrick when she dove to her left to make the catch and then doubled up the runner at first. And suddenly a new game path emerged. Although Allendale still threatened, following with a single and a walk, Sydney Vis cleanly fielded a grounder at short to make the final out.
The Sailor bats then came alive in the second. With one out, Barbrick doubled and Anna Orr gave South the lead with a triple, which was followed by a single by Aly Tanis, a hit-by-pitch by Annie Schreur, a double by Kinsey Brinkert, a walk by Ella Koster, and a double by Kate DeMann. And suddenly South had a five-run lead.
Allendale threatened again in the second, with their first two batters reaching base. With runners at second and third, Kate DeMann, playing third base, cut the runner out at home for the first out, and then pitcher Josie Vink fielded a grounder and gunned another runner at home. After a groundout to end the inning, Allendale did not manage to score a single run.
South added a single run in the third and Allendale got on the board in the fourth, cutting South’s lead in half, six to three. The Sailor bats were quiet in the fourth and fifth, and they were unable to capitalize on a pair of errors by Allendale.
Allendale threatened to score in the fifth, when their shortstop hit the ball down the line in right field, past a diving Annie Schreur; however, when rounding third base, she took a wide turn, ran into the umpire and was caught between third and home. The Sailors executed the pickle perfectly for the first out of the inning.
In the sixth, Allendale rallied. After a few bases on balls, the pitcher drove a line drive for the lone hit of the inning, and the Falcons scored four and had a 7-6 lead. And again the end seemed clear.
South was down to their final inning, and after a strikeout and groundout, they were down to their last out. Sydney Vis, down to her last strike, popped a ball into short left that seemed to be the end of the season until it landed safely to extend the game. Alyssa Barbrick brought Vis home with a single to tie the game. Anna Orr followed with a single.
Aly Tanis then hit a fly ball to right that was dropped, allowing both runners to score, giving South the 9-7 lead, which would have proved enough, but South was not quite finished.
Annie Schreur reached on an error by the clearly hurting Allendale shortstop. Kinsey Brinkert followed with a single to load the bases and bring up Ella Koster. Koster drove the ball to the fence in left center to clear the bases. Although Allendale threatened to score, in the end Sydney Vis got the number three batter to fly out to right field to secure the victory.
For their second win of the week, the Sailors scored twelve.
Strong pitching by starter Josie Vink and Sydney Vis in relief, smart defense with minimal errors, and timely hitting that took advantage of Falcon miscues, all helped South to the win. Sixth-ranked Spring Lake would prove to be too much for the Sailors in the championship game, but the week held enough blessings that the only tears that were shed were not for what was lost, but what was finished.