Missed chance costs Notre Dame softball team

Sunday, October 24, 2010
Notre Dame's Summer Burger and Kirksville's Katie Potter collide at second during the third inning of a Class 3 state softball third place game on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2010, in Springfield, Mo. Potter was called safe on the play. Notre Dame lost 2-1, placing fourth in the state. (Kristin Eberts)

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- After being shut out for the first time all season in its state softball semifinal, the Notre Dame offense pulled off another dubious first during the third-place game.

The Bulldogs loaded the bases with no outs in the third inning of their game against Kirksville but failed to score in the inning on their way to a 2-1 loss and a fourth-place finish in Class 3.

"That's going to take the wind out of your sails," Notre Dame coach Jeff Graviett. "You expect when you get the bases loaded and nobody out, you're thinking about two or three runs in an inning, not just one.

"You've got to give Kirksville a lot of credit for finding a way to stop that, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that's probably the first time that's happened to us this year and probably in a long time."

The Notre Dame offense, so prolific throughout the season, fizzled at the final four.

Kirksville's Kelsey Jacques gets out Notre Dame's Ashton Elfrink during the third inning of a Class 3 state softball third place game on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2010, in Springfield, Mo. Notre Dame lost 2-1, placing fourth in the state. (Kristin Eberts)

"We couldn't get that big hit," Graviett said. "We really didn't have an opportunity in the first game, but today came down to not getting that big hit and Kirksville came through there at the end."

Kirksville, the team Notre Dame defeated in the state championship game a season ago, took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning on Chloe Kerlin's RBI single.

Notre Dame was able to respond with a run in the next half inning when Savanna Ayers scored on a wild pitch, but Kirksville walked off with the win by scoring a run in the seventh.

"I'm not really upset that we lost, I'm just upset that it's my last year and it's my last game," said Courtney Reinagel, the lone senior on Notre Dame's roster. "I love the team and I had a lot of fun out here and my main goal was just to get to state and we did it, so I was pretty proud."

The Bulldogs had less than two hours to recover from their semifinal loss before taking the field against Kirksville.

Notre Dame's Jessica Menz, from left, Molly Johns and Veronica Moore comfort Courtney Reinagel after the Bulldogs' 2-1 loss to Kirksville in the Class 3 third-place game Friday in Springfield, Mo. (Kristin Eberts)

"It's hard to pick yourself back up after that first loss, but I think we did a pretty good job overall trying to come back," Ayers said.

Katie Bond took her second tough loss of the day in the game.

"You can definitely say that today didn't go as planned, but I thought we had a lot of positives," Graviett said. "I thought Katie threw extremely well today in two games.

"I thought she got some big strikeouts in some big spots in that first game today and pitched out of some jams in the second game, so I really saw maturity for her trying to elevate to the next level as a pitcher."

Notre Dame players were talking about next year even as they were leaving the dugout since most of the Bulldogs'roster returns next season.

Kirksville's Kelsey Jacques gets out Notre Dame's Ashton Elfrink during the third inning of a Class 3 state softball third place game on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2010, in Springfield, Mo. Notre Dame lost 2-1, placing fourth in the state. (Kristin Eberts)

"That's your goal is to get to this point," Graviett said. "It's tough when you come here -- the goal is a state championship, that's where the bar's been set with this program. Anything less than that would have been a little bit of a disappointment today, but you step back and look at the whole season, it's just a great all-around year and to get to this point is never disappointing."

The senior Reinagel would have liked for the final four experience to last one more day.

"I wish that we would be out here again [Saturday] so if we did have a bad day we'd be able to sleep on it, but we didn't so we came out here and we played the best that we could possibly play," she said. "I'm proud of the team."

Nevada defeated Boonville 4-3 in eight innings Saturday to win the state title.

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