Lone Tree held English Valleys to just two base runners on Monday night, beating the Bears 4-0 in the first round of postseason action.
Abby Buckman took the win in the circle, striking out 17 batters to reach a new single-game best.
“I felt really fresh because I had rested for the last week just getting ready for this,” Buckman said. “We played them on Friday and I got to rest that game, so I was just ready to go.”
Freshman Kinley Hayes and Arlie Lorack pitched in their game last Friday against English Valleys, taking an 11-6 win. That gave Buckman some much needed rest and seven days between her last start and Monday’s win.
“Not showing Abby was big, because she had great movement on the ball tonight and they had a hard time catching up with her,” Lone Tree coach Tom Dickey said.
The Lions loaded the bases in the first inning, using hits from Buckman and Lorack along with Lily Miller reaching on an error. A fly out from Holley Johnson ended the inning.
Johnson took advantage of her next at-bat though, with a similar situation in front of her. Buckman and Lorack had both reached on hits. Johnson then ripped a ball to the fence and drove in the first two runs of the game.
“I think it changed the game because those were the first two runs on the scoreboard, which is always big,” Johnson said. “We then just got more comfortable with the pitcher and our swings.”
English Valleys two base runners both reached third base, but couldn’t go any further. In the third one reached on a single and then got to third after a steal and a throwing error to second base. In the seventh, Karyssa Westfall reached on a single and made it to third because the Lions recorded the final out of the game.
Lone Tree added their third run in the fourth, as Heather Geiger drove in Kayla Dautremont, who was in as a pinch runner.
Their fourth run came in the fifth on a single from Kinley Hayes. That was a big insurance run according to Dickey, especially with the way Buckman was pitching.
“We had some kids come through in clutch situations,” Dickey said. “Holley Johnson with the two-run double, Kinley Hayes with the single to put us up 4-0 and also Heather Geiger, who hasn’t been our best hitter this year but is a senior and stepped up big for us tonight to get that third run.”
After the game, both Buckman and Johnson talked about how the energy in the dug out and on the field had changed toward the end of the season for the Lions. Dickey agreed and said the team is playing their best softball right now.
“All year we’ve been talking about getting to the point of all-out effort,” Dickey said. “I thought the last two weeks of the season we’ve played extremely hard and they’ve done things they maybe weren’t confident in doing early on.”
They will need that all-out effort as they play Class 1A No. 7 Lynnville-Sully on Wednesday. Despite the ranking in front of their name, Buckman isn’t worried.
“We know we have a chance because we almost beat Belle Plaine last week but the weather called it and Belle Plaine actually won the conference that Lynnville-Sully is in. So we know we have a chance of beating them.”
Lynnville-Sully is hitting .354 as a team, led by Mallory Loftus at .419. They have racked up 225 runs on 280 hits this year with 53 doubles.
Denali Conover is their ace with a 20-6 record and an ERA of 2.37.
“I just have to keep them off balance and have my curveball and rise ball working to keep them off balance,” Buckman said.
First pitch is 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Lynnville-Sully High School.