Late rally doesn't salvage game for Jackson in 8-3 loss

Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Hillsboro's Barbara Ahner slides safely into home as the ball flies by Jackson catcher Katie Garner during Monday night's district game in Farmington. (LAURA SIMON)

FARMINGTON, Mo. -- It took four innings for the Jackson offense to awaken Monday.

The problem for the Indians was that the hole was too big by then.

The Indians rallied for three late runs, but it wasn't enough as Hillsboro emerged with the 8-3 victory in their Class 4 District 1 semifinal.

"I was just glad we finally came around," Jackson coach Amanda Forester said. "It was a big boost for them to be able to come back and finally put some runs on the board and just show how good we've been over the last couple weeks."

Hillsboro pitcher Loren Gunnett took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, with her only blemish a walk in the fourth. But Jackson sophomore Katie Garner singled off the second baseman to open the fifth.

"I was just really looking to get a hit," Garner said of her approach. "I wanted to get something going for us because we were down 7-0. I didn't want to leave my girls out there with a no-hitter."

Hannah Thompson roped a one-out double to score Megan Hobeck, who pinch-ran for Garner.

"I stepped to the plate and I was like, 'I'm going to hit this ball. I've got nothing to lose,'" Thompson said.

After Jessica Jones singled, Michelle VanGennip drove in Jackson's second run with a ground out. Jones said that the Indians' problem with Gunnett was her location more than her velocity.

"She didn't throw very hard, but her outside pitch was killing us," Jones said. "The key was to move closer to the plate."

Hillsboro, which later downed Farmington 12-2 to capture the district crown, wasted no time jumping on Jackson starter Ashley Cook. The Hawks led 3-0 after four batters and never looked back. They added two more in the third before Forester relieved Cook with Thompson. Hillsboro added two more for a 7-0 lead after three innings.

"I think they have a lot of good hitters throughout their whole lineup," Thompson said. "They're good hitters, and they make great contact."

Thompson slowed down the Hawks' offense by mixing speeds. She recorded five strikeouts over the final 3 2/3 innings.

Forester said she started with Cook because Thompson struggled against the Hawks earlier this season.

"She pitched against them the first game and she gave up 12 hits the first game," Forester said of Thompson. "I just thought we'll try something different. They're a good hitting team."

It looked like the top of the seventh inning would be uneventful for Gunnett. She easily retired Jackson's first two batters before Thompson singled. Jones then hit a lazy pop up to shortstop Alicia Litviak, but Litviak dropped the ball, giving Jackson a speck of hope.

"I always say that it's not over until the last out," Thompson said. "I'm always positive until the last out. I was kind of hoping she'd drop it, and then when she did, I was like, 'All right, let's go.'"

VanGennip then singled before Megan Dockins grounded out to end the contest.

There were few tears after the game in the Jackson team huddle. Instead, Thompson lamented her team's slow start.

"We should have started earlier," she said while fighting back tears.


WP -- Loren Gunnett. LP -- Ashley Cook. HR -- Hannah Wessels (H). 2B -- Mikala Torrence (H), Gunnett (H), Hannah Thompson (J), Megan Dockins (J). Multiple hits -- Jackson: Thompson 2-2; Hillsboro: Wessels 2-4. Records -- Jackson 10-17.

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