Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
SOLON – Solon shortstop Taylor Moore made the final out against Benton on Friday by smacking a hard line drive that was caught in right field with the bases loaded.
Her hard-hit ball was symbolic of Solon's performance during a 4-2 loss in a Class 3A Region 6 semifinal before a standing-room only crowd at Solon.
“Benton played amazing defense,” said Solon coach Erin White said. “They put the ball in play. They did their job. I felt that our girls did their job, too. They just couldn’t find that hole or find that big hit.
“That last hit of the game, if it goes a half an inch either way, that’s two or three runs. So Benton played a great ball game defensively. They were on their A game. They were ready to go.”
Solon finished the season with a 27-9 record, while Benton advances to the Region 6 final with 26-14 record.
The Bobcats struck first by scoring one run in the top of the first inning, but the Spartans evened the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the frame on a solo home run by junior catcher Skylar Stookey.
That would be the only time that Stookey had a chance to swing as Benton coach Eric Stenberg chose to intentionally walk her in each of her final three plate appearances.
The third time came in the bottom of the seventh and loaded the bases for Moore, who then lined out to right field for the final out.
White had no problem with the decision to intentionally walk her star catcher three times.
“I would do the same thing,” White said. “She is definitely an incredible ball player. She loves to play the sport. She loves to compete. She’s just a great teammate, and all-around, she’s just a great kid. It’s nice to see here be so successful.”
Solon scored one run in the fourth inning to take a 2-1 lead despite not getting a base hit. But the Bobcats answered with three runs in the top of the fifth. Benton had three hits in the inning, including a two-run double by Makenna Bonewitz, but also benefitted from a Solon error at first base.
The Spartans jumped on freshman starter Katelyn Buscher, who only retired two batters in the bottom of the first inning before being replaced by junior Grace Martensen, who would go on to finish the game.
Martensen only allowed one hit, a double by Solon centerfielder Taylor Ryan to lead off the bottom of the seventh.
Ryan also stole third base, but was left stranded there.
The Solon players and coaches huddled in left field after the game and consoled each other as tears flowed.
Madison Rogers is Solon’s only senior and she will be hard to replace after hitting over .400 this season.
But the rest of the roster returns, providing hope and optimism for next season.
“They did work really hard and they were a real close group,” White said of her players. “I don’t know how I’m going to wake up tomorrow and not go to practice with these kids because I genuinely think they’re amazing kids.”
Benton 100 030 0 – 4 8 1
Solon 100 100 0 – 2 3 1
Katelyn Buscher, Grace Martensen (1) and Brielle Hogan, Jaden Thys (5); Kayla West and Skylar Stookey.
2B – SOL: Taylor Ryan; BC: Makenna Bonewitz
HR – SOL: Skylar Stookey