CHATHAM – A quick 57-minute game didn't ease the pain for Mattoon's softball team Tuesday.
“You made me choke up a little bit,” Katelyn Fisher said when asked for emotions. “It was a good group of girls. They weren't just great as players, but as girls.”
But that group had its season end with a 1-0 loss to Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin in the IHSA Class 3A Chatham Glenwood Sectional semifinals.
Whitney David pitched the three-hitter and drove in the game's only run with a third-inning sacrifice fly sending the Cyclones into an 11 a.m. sectional championship game Saturday against defending state champion Glenwood.
David was just what Mattoon did not want to see.
“You come to our games, you see we kind of struggle with off-speed pitchers,” Mattoon coach Trent Duckett said. “We'd rather see 65 (mph) than off-speed.”
Fisher said, “She had decent speed and just a good spin. Our team likes to hit the faster pitchers.”
Twice, the Green Wave led off innings with hits as Ivy Nichols doubled to start the fourth and Abe Lee singled in the fifth, but they were stranded.
Avery Jackson singled with one out in the sixth but was stranded when Kyliegh Basham flew out to right field after her deep drive to left was foul.
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“Kyliegh had a ball land about a foot from being a game-tying triple,” Duckett said.
The coach thought back to the fourth inning for another run-scoring chance.
“Maybe I should have squeezed with Ivy on third,” Duckett said. “But maybe that wouldn't have worked either.”
David was perfect through the first three innings with two pop ups caught by infielders, two ground outs, three outfield fly outs, a line out and a strikeout.
The Cyclones' run was the first allowed in the postseason by Fisher, who threw two shutouts as Mattoon won a ninth straight regional championship.
“You have to credit the way our defense played in the last three games and the way Fish pitched,” Duckett said. “The outfielders moved around and played well. At least it was a clean game. Last year we lost on two unearned runs. I'd rather lose this kind of game.”
This ended the coaching tenure for Duckett, who has resigned to be principal at Mattoon's St. John's Lutheran Elementary.
“It's a fun game,” he said. “I told the girls I'm going to miss it and them a lot.”