Notre Dame's offense fails to grab early lead

Sunday, October 26, 2008
Lauren Reinagel shows her frustration after allowing a home run during the fifth inning.

ST. JOSEPH — Notre Dame junior Jane Morrill summed it up best when she said that she and her teammates failed to produce with runners in scoring position in Saturday's Class 3 title game against Platte County.

"We had people on base almost every inning," Morrill said. "We were probably anxious and she [Platte County pitcher Haley Pypes] had a riseball that apparently all of us were swinging at and we just couldn't lay off of. We just couldn't get a good pitch to hit [runners] in."

Notre Dame left nine runners on base, including five in the first three innings, while their ace pitcher Lauren Reinagel retired the first nine batters she faced.

Notre Dame's inability to push runs across the plate early in the contest came back to haunt it.

Platte County — fortunate to keep the game scoreless — exploded for six runs in fourth inning off Reinagel and cruised to a 7-1 victory over Notre Dame to claim the Class 3 state title at Heritage Park.

Platte County handed Notre Dame not only second place, but also its first loss this season. The Bulldogs dropped to 28-1.

Notre Dame speedy leadoff hitter Erika Reinagel walked to start the game. She moved into scoring position when No. 2 hitter Paris Burger sacrificed her to second. But the middle of the lineup failed to drive home the run.

CHUCK WU ~ Erika Reinagel of Notre Dame reaches to 2nd base after an error throw made by short stop for the Platte County.

Erika Reinagel again reached to lead off the third when she hit a ground ball to shortstop and an errant throw allowed her into scoring position with no outs.

But she did not score again. Morrill popped out to second base in both of those innings.

"You've got to give their pitcher the credit," Notre Dame coach Jeff Graviett said. "The first three innings is the difference in the ballgame even though that's not the innings when they scored all the runs. We really, really tried to get out on top of them. It has been our bread and butter all year long — to get on teams and then put pressure on them with our bats and our legs. And we just could not push those runs across."

The Bulldogs faced Platte County and Pypes in last year's third-place game at the state tournament. In that game, Bulldogs hitters were able to bang out two runs on six hits against Pypes on their way to a 2-1 win.

Pypes allowed three hits and struck out 10 against Notre Dame on Saturday.

"She didn't look overpowering," Graviett said. "We watched her [Friday]. We really thought we'd have a good day offensively. But again, you've just got to give credit to the pitchers when they come out and do what they did to our offense."

Notre Dame put its leadoff hitter on base each of the first three innings.

After the Bulldogs squandered those three opportunities to gain a lead, Platte County finally figured out Lauren Reinagel in the home half of the fourth inning.

CHUCK WU ~ Nikki Chambers reaches third base for the Notre Dame on a error made by 3rd baseman of Platte County during the 6th inning.

Platte County's Brianna Corwin doubled to deep left then was sacrificed to third base to start the fourth inning. A suicide squeeze by Sarah Elliott brought home Corwin for a 1-0 lead.

Elliot then stole second. Reinagel was able to retire the next batter on a fly out to center field. But Platte County then did some serious damage with two outs.

The Pirates banged out four more hits in the inning, and two costly errors by the Bulldogs helped Platte County increase its lead to 6-0.

"It's just one of those things where you always try to avoid the big inning," Morrill said. "It just didn't happen that time I guess."

CHUCK WU ~ ABOVE: Notre Dame shortstop Jane Morrill catches a pop up during the second inning Saturday. BELOW: Platte County's Brianna Corwin slides home to score during the fourth inning.

Platte County increased the lead to 7-0 when Elliott hit a home run in the fifth inning.

The Bulldogs scored their only run — which was unearned — in the top of the sixth. But Pypes got out of that jam then retired the side in order in the seventh.

Platte County (30-3) left just three runners on base.

"I think if we would have had a run [in the first three innings] it would have kept us more under control and we would have controlled the damage better than we had," Notre Dame's Alecia Glaus said.

CHUCK WU ~ Brooke Glastetter of Notre Dame strikes the ball againist Platte County in the 6th inning.
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