For Massac County's Lady Patriot softball team, the Carbondale Class 3A regional was a three-act drama. Acts one and two ended well for the girls and act three . . . not so much.
After a dramatic three run walk-off homer beat the Lady Lions from Carterville on May 20, the girls faced favored Marion in the semi-final game the next day.
While the girls had beaten the Lady Wildcats earlier in the year, the Wildcats were seeded higher than Massac, and it turned out for good reason. Act two took extra innings to decide with Massac holding off Marion 7-6.
On to the regional championship, which was played last Friday at Carbondale. The fans on hand got their money's worth with timely hits, good pitching, some flashy defense and a hint of controversy.
Massac squandered a great scoring opportunity in the first inning when speedy Emma Austin opened the game with a 'hustle triple.' She was stranded at third, though, as Carbondale pitcher Kaitlyn Anders retired the next three Patriots with no damage.
Things were flying along in a great pitchers' duel until Massac jumped on Carbondale for four big runs in the top of the fifth, keyed by a big three run bomb by Macy Pierce.
That inning brought a lot of clamor for the fans as an interference call went against Massac and seemingly cost the ladies a run. It proved momentary, though, as Pierce's big hit quieted the crowd.
Carbondale started the road back in the bottom of the inning though as catcher Savannah Talley, batting in the lead-off spot, cracked the first of her two home runs for a 4-1 count.
The bottom of the sixth was big for Carbondale as the lower part of their lineup started a three run rally that tied things up at four.
Both pitchers, Cali McCraw for Massac and Anders for the Terriers, were on their game and quickly it was the bottom of the ninth. But just as quickly, Carbondale's leadoff batter, the aforementioned Ms. Talley, ripped a McCraw fast ball over the left center wall and the Terriers had the 5-4 win.
It was about as even a game as you could want with Carbondale collecting one more hit than Massac [the game winner], both teams making some really nice plays and both teams committing minimal mistakes.
Austin, Maddie Jenkins and Pierce all had multi-hit games for Massac and McCraw threw the eight inning complete game allowing ten hits, striking out six and walking no one.
Massac ended its season with a record of 16-10 while the Terriers improved to 19-9 with the win.
Carbondale faces Freeburg next in the Carterville sectional.