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Softball: Defensive miscues cost G-K in loss to Marengo

SYCAMORE – The Genoa-Kingston softball team was right there in two regular-season losses against Marengo this season.

In 5-1 and 3-0 losses to the Indians in Big Northern Conference play, the Cogs just hadn’t come through with the clutch hit or the big play.

And facing the defending Class 3A state runners-up for a third time in Thursday’s Class 3A Sycamore Regional semifinal, G-K once again came up short. G-K and Marengo battled to a scoreless tie through 31/2 innings before six G-K errors in the fifth and sixth innings resulted in four unearned runs and Marengo came away with a 10-0 win in six innings.

“Definitely the little things,” G-K junior catcher Paige Keegan said. “We should not be bumbling the ball with all the practices we’ve had. We should be spot on with those plays.”

G-K senior Danielle Engel and Marengo senior Bethany Hart were effective through the first four innings. Engel worked out of a mini-jam in the first, getting Marengo’s clean-up hitter to fly out with a runner on third, and retired eight consecutive batters at one point.

“She had good pop today. She threw hard,” G-K coach Mike Lauer said. “She hit the corners well and she really jammed a few kids.”

The Indians broke through in the fourth when Abby Kissack walked, was sacrificed to second and scored on Megan Semro’s RBI single.

G-K (17-7) had its chances offensively, but couldn’t push a run across. The Cogs put runners in scoring position in the second, fourth and fifth innings, but the big hit eluded them. In the sixth, Megan McConnell came through with a pinch-hit single and moved to second on an infield grounder. Autumn Kilgas singled up the middle, but McConnell was gunned down at the plate on a beautiful throw by Semro from center field.

“I felt very pleased with the way our kids came out and they executed as much as we could in terms of the game plan and offensively,” Lauer said. “The score’s going to be kind of confusing to people who weren’t here to watch it.”

After making three errors in the fifth inning, leading to two unearned runs, the Cogs committed another three errors in the sixth inning. Marengo (27-9) capitalized by sending 11 batters to the plate before the 10-run rule came into effect.

“We made some great adjustments at the plate and late in the game, we started hitting the ball really well,” Marengo coach Dwain Nance said.

Five of G-K’s seven losses on the season came to Marengo and Burlington Central, who will battle for the regional title at 11 a.m. Saturday.

This year’s seniors helped G-K win its first regional title since 2008 last season and were a big part of the Cogs’ smooth transition from 2A to 3A in 2013.

“We had a really good season,” Keegan said. “Having an older team was really nice. We’re going to miss them next year.”

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