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Generals squeak by Eagles and into semifinals

Kennett softball girls see season end in Class I quarterfinals

WHITNEY ROBERTS walks off the field as the John Stark Generals celebrate their upset of the Eagles in the Class I quarterfinals on Saturday, June 6. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
June 11, 2009
NORTH CONWAY — Just like in the first round contest, errors played a big part in Saturday's second round tournament game for the Kennett softball squad.

This time, however, the sixth-seeded John Stark Generals were able to take advantage of enough Kennett mistakes and recorded the upset 4-3 victory, earning a spot in the Class I Final Four.

"It's just execution at this point," said coach Peter Ames after his squad was eliminated from postseason contention. "The errors are the things that show up, but there were things much more than the errors.

"We shot ourselves in the foot," he added. "At this point, if you make those mistakes, you are going to pay for it."

Just like three days earlier, the Eagles allowed two runs in the first inning, but both were unearned as the potential third out of the inning turned into an error. The inning did have two solid defensive plays, as Amber McPherson made a nice grab of the first out on a liner to short and Sam Janos backed into right field to catch the final out.

Janos (hit by a pitch) and Whitney Roberts (walk) both reached in the first inning for Kennett, but the Eagles couldn't score and in the second, walks to Katie Bishop and Kristina Drew again put two runners on, but the Eagles still couldn't find a way to plate a run.

John Stark stretched the lead to 3-0 in the third inning, with another Eagle error playing a part in the run.

However, Kennett was finally able to get on the board in the bottom of the inning and closed the gap to 3-2.

Janos started the inning with a walk and scored on a double to center by Molly Saunders. A base hit to center by Roberts scored courtesy runner Ashley Smith to pull the Eagles to within one.

Saunders then set the Generals down in order in the fourth inning, the first time in two games the Eagles had gotten through an inning without an opponent reaching base.

In the bottom of the fourth, Alyssa Chick walked to start the inning and moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Kristina Drew. A sacrifice groundout by Alex Billert moved Chick to third and she scampered home on a wild pitch as Janos was being walked.

Saunders followed with a base hit and Roberts brought the crowd to its feet with a long drive to center, but the General outfielder hauled the ball in at the fence and the inning was over, but the Eagles had come up with the tying run.

Janos cut down a runner at the plate with a nice throw on a grounder to second in the top of the fifth inning, but the Eagles couldn't rally in the bottom of the frame.

John Stark threatened again in the sixth. With two outs, a double, a wild pitch and a walk put two runners on. Another wild pitch sent the General runner home, but Bishop pounced quickly on the loose ball and fired to Saunders covering the plate. The senior pitcher got the tag down and the game remained tied.

Chick reached on an error to open the sixth, but she was thrown out on a bunt by Drew. The senior was then gunned down on a grounder to third by Billert and Billert was thrown out trying to steal second to end the bottom of the sixth inning.

John Stark took the lead on yet another error in the top of the seventh, this one coming with two outs and in the bottom of the frame, the Eagles couldn't get anything going and the season had come to a close.

"It's too bad, because I think we're as good as that team," Ames said. "It's similar to what happened last year, we just didn't execute a couple of times.

"Certainly the effort was good, as we came back and had a chance to break it open," Ames continued. "But you have to execute at the right time because you don't get a lot of second chances."

While the Eagles are finished for this year, Ames will return all but three of his players (Saunders, Drew and Billert) from this year's squad and the Eagles will likely be battling for another good playoff berth next year.

The Eagles finished the regular season at 14-3 and won their first round game over Con-Val after earning the third seed in the Class I tournament.

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