A dream season came to an end this past Saturday for the Van-Far Lady Indians softball team as their sixth inning rally to tie the game wasn’t enough in a 10-7 loss to Chaffee in the Class 1 State Quarterfinals.
A victory would have advanced the Lady Indians into the Final Four.
“This one was a heart breaker for sure,” said Van-Far head coach Kelly Orf. “We were down and battled back, which is something we hadn’t done all season. These ladies never quit, they played as a team, and played their hearts out till the last out and as a coach that is absolutely all you can ask for. I am so proud of (what) all these young ladies accomplished and how much they have improved since the beginning of the season. These last few weeks have been so exciting and so fun to coach. These girls are the exact reason why I love what I do!”
Orf said the postseason run was also special because it came in the final season for assistant coach Wes Rowden.
“It being Coach Rowden’s last year, he is definitely going out in style,” Orf added. “He is going to be very missed and I was so blessed to work with him and learn from him these past four years.”
The Lady Indians hosted their State Quarterfinals game with Chaffee in front of a paid crowd totaling 472. Orf was thankful for all of the workers who helped in getting things ready for the big game and for the support her team received this season.
“To everyone who supported us all year long and who put in countless time and effort to make Saturday possible, I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Orf added.
Early in the game, the Lady Indians fans didn’t have a whole lot to cheer about.
After Van-Far pitcher Jayle Jennings recorded two quick outs to start the game, Chaffee put together one of three two-out rallies they would have in the game.
With two outs, Chaffee had four hits and one batter reached on an error to score four runs for a 4-0 lead. The Lady Indians did respond with their first run in the bottom half of the first inning when Madison Orr scored on a wild pitch.
Orr had advanced after her lead-off single, moved to second on Alexis DeTienne’s sacrifice bunt, and reached third base on a passed ball before scoring.
Chaffee had a lead-off single in the second inning and appeared ready to strand a runner on first base after two quick outs. Unfortunately, Chaffee had back-to-back doubles from the heart of their lineup to score two more runs for a 6-1 lead.
Van-Far put together their own two-out rally in the bottom of the second inning as both Carleigh Phillips and Reaghan Case had back-to-back, two-out singles.
Orr then picked up an RBI single to score Phillips before the rally ended with two runners left on base.
Both teams combined for just one hit and three base runners in the third inning when Chaffee struck again in the fourth.
The Lady Red Devils took a 7-2 lead before the inning ended on a runner interference call between second and third base.
Trailing 7-2, the Lady Indians entered the bottom of the sixth inning, knowing they needed to string some hits together to get back in the game.
Jayda Borgmeyer and Renee Nelson drew back-to-back walks to start the inning.
Two batters later, Phillips had an RBI single to score Borgmeyer.
With two outs, Orr’s walk loaded the bases when DeTienne had an infield single for an RBI to cut the lead to 7-4.
Jordan Garner followed with a two-RBI double. Then Jennings hit a game-tying RBI double causing the Lady Indians’ crowd to be heard all over Vandalia. DeTienne scored on the play.
Chaffee, who gave up a big lead, regained their focus to score three runs in the top of the seventh inning and the Lady Indians were unable to overcome another deficit in the three-run loss.
Jennings picked up the loss after having one strikeout over seven innings.
Both Phillips and Orr had two hits in the loss while Garner had two RBIs.
Three days earlier, the Lady Indians won their first ever State Sectional game after traveling about three hours south to knock off St. Elizabeth in front of a large Van-Far crowd who made the trip, 13-2.
Before leaving town, the Lady Indians got pumped with a pep rally and then took a ride through town as they were greeted by supporters and signs cheering them on. They were also greeted in Farber on their way out of the area on Highway 54.
In the game, both teams were tied 2-2 through five innings before Van-Far blew open the game in the bottom of the sixth with 11 runs.
Orr had a home run, four hits and four RBIs while both Jennings and DeTienne each had two hits. Autumn Sutton had two RBIs and Garner drew three walks.
Jennings picked up the win after tossing six innings and striking out seven.
“We played great defense and it took us a while to get our bats going, but when they did, they didn’t stop,” Orf said. “When Madison Orr hit her home run, it lit a spark in our offense and there was no stopping us.”