PBL softball's 2018 season ends with loss to BCC in IHSA Class 2A regional semifinals

BLOOMINGTON -- It was almost a tale of two softball teams as Paxton-Buckley-Loda and Bloomington Central Catholic faced each other in Tuesday's IHSA Class 2A BCC regional semifinal game.
While the host Saints, a top seed, was looking for its third consecutive regional title, PBL went into Tuesday's game as a ninth seed. With a 11-0 loss in five innings, the Panthers ended their season with a record of 8-17.
“I'm disappointed in the outcome, but I'm not disappointed in their effort," PBL head coach Kelli Vaughn said. "Do we want to lose 11-0 in the regional? No, but they got to see what a good softball team looks like tonight. They're a good team. They've played some 3A and 4A competition. We didn't exactly get a great regional draw, but we came in here and we swung the bat.”
Cassidi Nuckols was PBL's lone senior -- and lone upperclassmen -- as the Panthers went into regionals with eight freshmen and six sophomores.
“We're going to miss CJ Nuckols. She was our leader. She and Baylee (Cosgrove) led this team. CJ's leaving it in good hands with Baylee as a leader next year coming back as a sophomore. Not many kids play as hard as CJ Nuckols does. She's that kid who wanted to take extra swings in batting practice," Vaughn said. 
"She'd want to take extra ground balls after practice. She just set a good example, and she's a hard-nosed player. You just don't replace a kid like that, but I'm looking forward to going to battle with another group of young kids next year. All we can do is just continue to work.”
During the bottom of the second inning of Tuesday's game, the catcher Cosgrove threw to the shortstop Nuckols to catch BCC's Harley Schade stealing for the first out.
Although Leah Eppley -- who led off the inning with a triple to left field -- would score a run on the play to extend her team's lead to 6-0, it was one of what Vaughn estimates to be "17 or 18" times that Cosgrove caught a baserunner stealing for an out.
“Baylee threw out a bunch of baserunners this year. Teams rarely tried to steal bases on us because Baylee's arm is so good," Vaughn said. 
"CJ was on the receiving end of all those throws down to second base. She was willing to sacrifice her body and just get clobbered out there sometimes. We've got to find somebody who's willing to receive that throw to shortstop next year.”
The top of the third inning was the only inning in which PBL advanced a runner into scoring position.
Kelbie Hayden led off the inning with a single before advancing to second base on a Dalaney Rogers groundout. Cosgrove sent Hayden to third base with a base hit to center field, and advanced to second base herself on a throw toward home plate.
Izzy Vetter struck out Christina White to leave both baserunners stranded. Vetter picked up the win on the mound for the Saints (26-7) as struck out seven batters and walked none while allowing two hits through three innings pitched. 
Schade fanned six batters and walked none while yielding no hits through two innings of relief.
“We just about scored off their No. 1 pitcher and got a couple of hits," Vaughn said.
Cosgrove is oneof the eight freshmen who will be sophomores and Hayden is one of six sophomores who will be juniors next year after helping PBL come close to tripling its win total from 2017, when the Panthers went 3-24.
“We grew a lot as a team," Vaughn said. “I'm proud of my kids. They worked hard all year long. I think that we steadily improved. I just feel like these kids having an opportunity to play at the varsity level early in their careers is only going to help us in the future.”
The Panthers also improved their record in the Sangamon Valley Conference from 0-12 in 2017 to 4-8 in 2018.
“We went from winning no conference games last year, when these sophomores were freshmen last year, to winning four this year. We had a chance to win seven or eight," Vaughn said. 
"We lost a lead late to Dwight. We played Momence to 10 innings. We lost a lead late to Clifton (Central) last week. We're right there. We're on the cusp of maybe turning the corner.”
After Eppley bunted and reached base on an error in the bottom of the first inning, Charlie Sartoris sacrificed and reached base on another error to send Eppley home for the first of five BCC first-inning runs. Kayla Stenger and Vetter each hit an RBI double and Ellie Nelson sent two runs home with a double to left field.
“We've played better defense this year, but we've also played some innings where we had more errors than that," Vaughn said.
Stenger drove in a run with a double to left field as BCC ended the second inning leading 7-0. Schade hit an RBI single and Sartoris hit a two-RBI double to left field for the Saints to increase their lead to 10-0 in the third inning.
Emily Adwell, a sophomore, was relieved on the mound by freshman Mallorie Ecker in the fourth inning. Adwell allowed 10 runs -- eight earned -- on 12 hits and two walks through three innings.
"I’m looking for Emily to be one of those Junior leaders next year," Vaughn said. "Emily won seven of our eight games on the mound, and has a great attitude and always does what I ask of her."
The Saints produced one run on two hits and one walk in the fourth inning as Briana Luna hit an RBI single to center field.
Next year, Vaughn said one of her team's goals is to get a higher seed for regionals.
“They know that, in the future, we don't want to be the last seed in the regional anymore," Vaughn said. "They're willing to get in the weight room this summer. They're willing to work.
“I've got some competitors in the dugout. I've got some kids who want to play and want to get better, and some kids whose batting averages continued to rise throughout the season. They were a fun group to be around. When you enjoy going to practice every day and enjoy going to the games, that's part of the battle.”
Along with the returners, the Panthers are welcoming an eighth-grade class next year that helped the PBL Junior High School softball team finish with a 7-7 record last fall. 
“We've got some eighth-graders coming next year who are going to help our program and vie for some positions," Vaughn said. "These kids who are now going to be sophomores and juniors next year are going to have some competition. They're going to have to be willing to work in the offseason to improve.” 
Vaughn also hopes to welcome some better weather into next season.
The Panthers' last victory of the 2018 season was in a make-up game against Tri-Point on May 4. In between PBL's losses to Georgetown-Ridge Farm on March 21 and Oakwood on April 7, the Panthers had 12 games either canceled or postponed due to weather.
“I wish the weather had been a little more kind to us this year. We were stuck inside and practicing inside when we needed to be outside. Then at the end of the season, we were so rushed to try to squeeze all those games in that we didn't get to practice anymore (because we had a) game every night. We needed to practice," Vaughn said. 
"This was a year where we needed those practice days, and I don't feel like we got them. (PBL High School athletic director) Brock (Niebuhr) and I are going to sit down. We're going to maybe try to revamp the schedule a little bit so our junior varsity kids can get some more innings next year because we're still young. 
"We need some extra practice days in there just so we can work on some things that we need to work on.”
Bloomington Central Catholic 11, PBL 0
PBL 000   00   --  0   2   2
BCC 523   1x   -- 11 14  1
W -- Izzy Vetter, 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 7 K, 0 BB. L -- Emily Adwell, 3 IP, 12 H, 10 R, 8 ER, 0 K, 2 BB.
PBL (8-17) -- Baylee Cosgrove 1-2. Kelbie Hayden 1-2.
BCC (26-7) -- Leah Eppley 1-3, 3B, 2 R. Harley Schade 1-1, RBI, R. Briana Luna 1-1, RBI. Charlie Sartoris 2-2, 2B, 3 RBIs, 2 R. Kayla Stenger 3-3, 2B, 2 RBIs. Izzy Vetter 1-3, RBI. Scout Paul 1-3. Ellie Nelson 2-2, 2B, 2 RBIs. Natalee Knight 1-1, R. Diane Tomczak 1-2, 2B, R. Madison Clark 2 R. Courtney Olsen R.
Batting average 
Name Avg./AB
Baylee Cosgrove .494/89
Cassidi Nuckols .395/86
Kelbie Hayden .333/69
Kayla Adwell .311/61
Sindra Gerdes .284/74
Jaden Bender .277/65
Maddy Foellner .261/69
Christina White .235/68
Dalaney Rogers .188/32
Jolee Hastings .182/22
Kayla Suhl .167/6
Mallorie Ecker .149/47
TEAM .303/697
On-base percentage
SkyLer Eaker 1.00/1
Baylee Cosgrove .563/103
Kayla Suhl .545/11
Sindra Gerdes .436/94
Cassidi Nuckols .435/92
Kelbie Hayden .410/78
Christina White .402/87
Maddy Foellner .386/83
Kayla Adwell .382/68
Jaden Bender .356/73
Dalaney Rogers .297/38
Mallorie Ecker .259/56
Jolee Hastings .217/23
Emily Adwell .143/8
TEAM .403/818
Home runs
Name HRs
Baylee Cosgrove 4
Sindra Gerdes 2
Cassidi Nuckols 1
Kelbie Hayden 1
Maddy Foellner 1
Name 3Bs
Baylee Cosgrove 5
Cassidi Nuckols 2
Kelbie Hayden 2
Maddy Foellner 2
Sindra Gerdes 2
Name 2Bs
Baylee Cosgrove 8
Cassidi Nuckols 8
Kelbie Hayden 4
Sindra Gerdes 4
Maddy Foellner 3
Kayla Adwell 2
Christina White 1
Jaden Bender 1
Mallorie Ecker 1
Runs batted in
Name RBIs
Sindra Gerdes 26
Cassidi Nuckols 23
Baylee Cosgrove 20
Kelbie Hayden 16
Maddy Foellner 16
Kayla Adwell 14
Jaden Bender 12
Christina White 11
Mallorie Ecker 7
Dalaney Rogers 4
Jolee Hastings 2
TEAM 151
Runs scored
Name Rs
Baylee Cosgrove 37
Cassidi Nuckols 30
Sindra Gerdes 23
Christina White 18
Jaden Bender 16
Maddy Foellner 16
Kelbie Hayden 11
Kayla Adwell 10
Mallorie Ecker 10
Dalaney Rogers 5
Jolee Hastings 3
SkyLer Eaker 2
Emily Adwell 1
Kayla Suhl 1
TEAM 183
Stolen bases
Name SBs
Baylee Cosgrove 22
Sindra Gerdes 9
Cassidi Nuckols 7
Kelbie Hayden 3
Christina White 2
Kayla Adwell 2
Dalaney Rogers 1
Jaden Bender 1
Mallorie Ecker 1
Earned-run average
Emily Adwell 4.67/88.1
Mallorie Ecker 7.68/37.1
Cassidi Nuckols 8.28/25.1
TEAM 5.82/151.1
Pitching wins
Name W-L
Emily Adwell 7-8
Cassidi Nuckols 1-1
TEAM 8-16
Name SVs/SVOs
Emily Adwell 1/1
TEAM 1/1
Name Ks
Emily Adwell 36
Cassidi Nuckols 22
Mallorie Ecker 20


Categories (3):Prep Sports, Softball, Sports


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