Few showed up to the class 1A regional softball semi-final contest between Springville and third-ranked Lisbon Friday, July 8, giving the Orioles much of a chance to seriously threaten the powerful Lions.
Well, those not wearing orange anyway.
And that was even with the knowledge Springville had defeated mighty Lisbon earlier this summer in the first game of a Tri-Rivers Conference doubleheader.
But that was against the Lions’ No. 2 pitcher Addy Petersen, a high-quality hurler in her own right.
The Orioles would now have to face all-everything superstar Ryleigh Allgood, one of the top pitchers in the state of Iowa regardless of class.
It was Allgood who threw the second game of that twin bill back on June 14, and held the Springville team to a mere two-hits (both coming from Nia Howard) leading the Lions to a 5-0 victory.
Friday night however, Allgood would face a completely different Oriole team.
Same in appearance, but vastly unalike in confidence in what will go down as one of the most amazing contests in Springville softball history.
“The first time we faced Allgood, I’m not sure we were completely prepared for the kind of velocity she can bring,” said Oriole softball coach Anthony Troyna, as his team never backed down from the hosts all night long in what ended as a heartbreaking and season-ending 7-6 setback that stretched to eight incredible and gut-wrenching innings.
“We prepped for that at practice on Thursday and cranked the pitching machine way, way up, and all of the girls seemed more than prepared for the kind of heat coming at them Friday night. I think our ability to hit the softball, and hit it hard off of Allgood, surprised a lot of people. Maybe even some of our own fans as well who watched her pretty much control us earlier this year.”
Not Friday night however, and it was Howard who showed Lisbon fans that the Orioles were here to play opening with a bunt hit to lead-off the game in the top of the first.
It would be the first of eight hits in the game for the visitors, most of which resulted in Springville scoring runs.
The Lions scored in their first at-bat in the bottom of the first when Peyton Robinson led-off with a single and came around to score thanks to an Oriole error.
Lisbon fans were more than prepared for what they thought would be another impressive triumph from their storied program.
Instead, they’d be in for a fight.
“When we played them the first time, I thought we were able to make some good contact against Allgood but just couldn’t find the holes and hit them right at their fielders,” said Springville senior Morgan Nachazel. “The environment was quite a bit different this time, too, and we like the pressure situations. We’ve all been through it before whether it be state volleyball or state basketball, we have girls on this team who thrive under pressure. We were ready for the moment.”
Kelcie Clothier led off the second-inning with a ringing double to the left-center field gap and came around to score the game-tying run when Kailee Jacobs also roped an RBI double.
The Lions answered immediately in the bottom of the second when Blair Baltes doubled and scored on an RBI ground-out from Gabi Moehlman handing the hosts a 2-1 advantage.
When Mia Petersen blasted a two-run homerun two-innings later, Lisbon extended their advantage to 4-1 and appeared well on their way to rolling to a convincing triumph.
The Orioles flat-out would not allow it.
Thanks to some Lion fielding miscues, Springville was able to plate two fifth-inning runs as Hannah March and Ashlynne Zaruba both crossed the plate trimming the deficit to a single run at 4-3.
“The fight just never ends with this group of girls,” Troyna said. “It’s just who we are and what we have done all summer long and especially since the first time we played Lisbon about a month ago. The resilience these girls continue to show is nothing short of amazing, so for us to do what we did Friday night came as no surprise to me. They were prepared, confident and ready to play.”
An inning later things really got serious as Jacobs and Alivia Hoyt delivered back-to-back singles ahead of Howard who stroked an enormous two-run double that gave the Orioles an incredible 5-4 advantage.
“It’s amazing how things just have a crazy way of working themselves out,” Troyna said. “Nia dumped a hit down the third-base line that clearly looked fair but the umpire called foul. Two pitches later she rips a double into the right-center field gap scoring Kailee and pinch-runner Ella Hoge. It was amazing. The girls were riding the roller-coaster of emotion, and we had the lead back.”
Lisbon quickly knotted the score plating a single run in the bottom of the sixth taking advantage of an Oriole error.
After Springville threatened to score in the top of the seventh, leaving Matus stranded at third base, the game went into the eighth.
And once again, it was the Orioles providing the drama.
Jacobs, a first-time varsity starter this season as a senior, came through with a blow that will be remembered in Springville softball annals for quite some time launching a lead-off line-drive solo homerun that just stayed inside the foul-pole giving the visitors a shocking 6-5 lead.
“Kailee had been backing away from some pitches earlier in the game and I just told her to stay in there and turn on it,” Nachazel said. “Wow did she ever turn on one, all of the way out of the park.”
Oriole fans were euphoric while Lion faithful stood stunned as their team was on the brink of defeat.
Springville needed three outs to continue their dream 2022 season.
They’d get just one.
After Baltes popped to Zaruba at shortstop, the Orioles had the first out of the inning, but Chloe Clausen and Moehlman followed with back-to-back hits for the Lions and after an outfield error allowed Clausen to score, tying the game, Troyna had a tough decision to make.
“With a runner on third and one-out, I figured Lisbon would try and bunt to score the game-winning run,” he said. “I wanted to set up a force at the plate and decided to intentionally walk the next two batters to load the bases. I figured that was our best chance at getting out of the inning.”
Lisbon’s Kali Nelson spoiled the plan ripping the game-winning hit up the middle sending the Lions home with the walk-off victory, and leaving Springville players, coaches and fans completely stunned.
“I almost couldn’t believe what I was watching,” said Nachazel who walked off the field with tears pouring down her face.
“So many ups and down in this game, I really started to think, especially after we got that first out in the eighth, that we were actually going to do it. We were going to beat Lisbon.”
Springville tagged Allgood unlike any team has all summer long. The Lisbon flamethrower had allowed a mere 12 earned runs all summer long in 153.2 innings of work, but on Friday night allowed four to the Orioles.
“Pretty special night all the way around,” Troyna said. “A lot to be proud of here.”
Jacobs powered that phenomenal Springville offense going 3-for-4 while Howard added two hits.
Molly Stamp was rock-solid in the pitchers’ circle never allowing the pressure of the moment to get to her throwing all 7.1 frames allowing 12 Lisbon hits and five earned runs while striking out two.
“Molly did her job and threw strikes,” Troyna said. “I was so proud of her. She let her defense make plays, and for the most part, they did.”
The loss brought an end to the careers of seniors Nachazel, Jacobs, Clothier, Grace Matus, Savannah Nealman, Kailee Hoge and Alexa Hutchcroft.
“It’s been great to see how much this program has grown the last five years since we joined up,” Nachazel said. “Everyone worked hard and helped make the program what it is today, one that can realistically say is good enough to make it to the state tournament. That’s what we all wanted. We wanted to be at state in all four sports and we just about got there.”
Springville wraps the 2022 campaign with a 22-14 overall record.