Lady Panthers finish fourth with loss to Williamsville

Pinckneyville with their fourth place trophy after Saturday's game. (Doug Daniels Photo)

By Doug Daniels /

June 2, 2018

  (East Peoria, Ill.) -  Moments after the team that ended their hopes for a state title was crowned Class 2A champions on an adjacent softball diamond, the Lady Panthers had a chance to end their season with a win, but instead came home with fourth place for the second year in a row, falling to Williamsville 6-3 on Saturday afternoon in East Peoria.
  "Sometimes I think we got caught trying too hard," said PCHS head coach Alan Engelhardt. "Again, you can't fault a kid for trying too hard. One of the things a lot of these kids will learn sometime, and even the seniors are learning, is their 'good' is good enough. I don't think they realize that yet. Popped up a couple times a big situations, just trying too hard, trying to do too much. Still learning things, even the last game of the year."
  Pinckneyville dropped their state semifinal to eventual state champ Rockridge in walkoff fashion on Friday, and were just footsteps away preparing for the third place game when the Rockets finished off Beecher in the championship game.
  Like they did on Friday, PCHS got on the scoreboard first against Williamsville when Daisy Dudek homered to start the top of the first inning. The Bullets fired right back, though, scoring twice in the bottom of the inning after doubles from Mackenzie McCormick and Emma Newton, along with an error.
  Pinckneyville scored their final runs of the season in the top of the third. Dudek walked to start it off, then Taylor Witges, Mariah Clark and Josie Gleason all singled, with Gleason's base hit resulting in an RBI. Emma Banach later drove in a run on a fielder's choice to make it 3-2 Lady Panthers.

  Williamsville had an answer once again, plating three runs on four hits in the bottom of the fourth to go on top for good. They'd add an insurance run in the sixth after a pair of walks and a pair of singles against Dudek, who was on in relief of Clark in the pitching circle.
  "We had talked about as coaches that we might get (Dudek) in here just to give a different look, especially with Mariah leaving everything on the field yesterday," said Engelhardt. "As hot as it was, I think her legs were a little gone by the time we got to the fifth here today. Daisy came in and did a great job, and that's the expectation for her again, because she's an all-conference pitcher as well and can really throw the thing."
  Clark allowed seven hits, one walk, and struck out one in four innings. Dudek tossed two frames, giving up four hits and two walks.
  "We were having a hard time with a little narrower strike zone, so we had to come after them, and they can swing it," Engelhardt said. "I thought they did a nice job of putting the bat on the ball. We limited the damage a couple times, but they put a couple swings on it that really hurt us."
  Dudek (2-3, 2 R, RBI, 2B, HR, BB), Witges (2-3, R, BB), Clark (1-3, BB), Gleason (1-3, RBI, BB), Kylee Kling (1-3, BB) and Lynlee Lindner (1-4) had hits for Pinckneyville.
  The Lady Panthers finished the season with an overall record of 33-6 and an unbeaten conference championship for the second straight year. They'll have big shoes to fill in 2019 with seven seniors graduating, including the entire starting infield and both of their top pitchers.
  "It's going to be a big hole losing (these seniors)," said Engelhardt. "They're good kids, too. A lot of times you see kids that are great athletes - they're good kids too. They want to please you, they want to do what's right, and they try to do that. I can't stress that side of it enough. All of our kids, I'll go to bat for them any day."
  "We felt like, and we still feel like, there are four very evenly-matched teams up here. We felt like coming up that we could be the best of them, obviously that didn't happen for us, and it hurts. The third place game is a really hard game to play, especially the way we lost yesterday, leaving everything out on the field, them coming up with the big hit. It's hard, but I couldn't be prouder of our kids, because we did come out and compete even though it was a difficult game for us."

Photos and video by Doug Daniels / Pinckneyville

Video highlights from the semifinals and third place game. (Doug Daniels video)


© 2018-19 Doug Daniels Photography