St. Bede’s Brooke Tonozzi arrives at home plate before the ball can get to Mendota pitcher Rylee Klema’s glove after a wild pitch allowed Tonozzi to race home with a sixth-inning run in the Oregon Sectional championship game on May 26. (Reporter photo)
OREGON – When Mendota’s offense, which was stellar for most of the season, finally showed it still had a pulse, it was simply too late.
The Lady Trojans had no solution for solving St. Bede pitcher Abbie May, who allowed nary a hit and barely a batted ball through six innings. Then in the seventh, Mendota broke through with a pair of hits that resulted in two runs, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Lady Bruins, who posted a 3-2 victory in the championship game of the Oregon Class 2A Regional Softball Tournament on May 26.
Mendota’s season started with a 2-1 win over St. Bede in mid-March and ended in a disappointing sectional final loss to the Lady Bruins.
St. Bede staked May to a 2-0 lead in the very first inning despite getting just a bunt single in the frame. Mendota pitcher Rylee Klema walked lead-off batter Maggie Sons and Ally Borkowski laid down a perfectly placed bunt that got by Klema for a single. A pair of Mendota fielding miscues followed that allowed Sons and Borkowski to race home for a quick St. Bede lead.
Then May went to work in the circle and proved to be unhittable for three innings. She mowed down the first nine Mendota batters via strikeout before Morgan Marquis lined out to center to lead off the fourth. May fanned the next two batters to retire the side, then in the fifth, Jenna O’Donnell popped out to the catcher and May struck out two more to give her 13 Ks through five innings.
St. Bede had threatened to add to its lead in each inning through the fifth, loading the bases with one out in the second and getting runners to second base in the third, fourth and fifth, but Klema worked out of each jam to keep the count at 2-0.
A bit of controversy occurred in the top of the sixth that helped the Lady Bruins tack on what would be a mighty big insurance tally. After the first batter was retired, Brooke Tonozzi doubled and Sons tried to sacrifice her over to third. Klema bounced off the mound to field the bunt and instead of throwing to first, she spun around and tried to catch Tonozzi rounding third. She fired the ball to third and the base umpire called Tonozzi out. Then after some complaints from the St. Bede faithful, the umpires huddled together and the home plate ump reversed the call and ruled Tonozzi was safe. With Borkowski at the plate and runners on first and third, Klema uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Tonozzi to race home to give St. Bede a 3-0 lead.
May struck out the side in the bottom of the sixth and St. Bede squandered an excellent scoring opportunity in the top of the seventh when its first two batters singled. But Klema once again got out of the jam unscathed with two fly outs and a strikeout.
Marquis led off the bottom of the seventh for Mendota and struck out on ball in the dirt, so she took off for first. Borkowski’s throw to first bounced in the dirt and Hailey Short was unable to scoop it up, and Marquis was safe. Alex Barrera followed with a bunt single for Mendota’s first hit of the game to put runners at first and second.
Klema sent a long drive to right-center that Addie Lee tracked down, allowing Marquis to tag and advance to third. Mendota’s next batter, Jenna O’Donnell, squared around like she was going bunt, and Borkowski couldn’t handle the pitch for a passed ball that allowed Marquis to race home with Mendota’s first run of the game. O’Donnell eventually struck out, but Emma Boatman ripped a sharp single up the middle to drive in Barrera to make it 3-2. But May managed to get Reiss Buettner to pop up to first for the final out of the game.
May ended with 18 strikeouts, mixing in rise balls with drop balls that had Lady Trojan hitters baffled.
“We worked hard on trying to lay off of some of those pitches that sail out of the zone, but May hit her spots and we couldn’t do anything with her until the seventh,” said Mendota coach Joel Perez. “We tried to win it in the seventh, but it just wasn’t our day.”
The Lady Trojans closed out a banner season with a 21-10 record, claiming the first regional title in school history. Perez said hard work by the players and the coaching staff helped the team to reach new heights.
“We put in a lot of hard work to get to this point, and I feel the program is on the rise and has a great future,” added Perez. “I’d like to thank the seniors (Klema, Marquis, Brittany Menzel, Brandy Delao) for everything they’ve done to help us achieve success. And I’d like to thank the fans and the community for the support they’ve shown us.”