When the hits stopped, 32 all told, and the dust settled on the Valley Showcase at Caswell Park on Saturday, the Clippers were on the short end of a 16-12 slug fest with Martin County West.
With the win, the Mavericks avenged a 2-1 extra inning loss to the Clippers earlier in the season.
The game also closed out the regular season for the Clippers. The fourth seed of the 14 teams in the section, they take on 13th ranked Martin Luther/Granda-Huntley-East Chain/Truman in Cleveland today (Tuesday) at 5:00 pm.
The Clippers outhit the Mavericks, who finished third in the Valley, but the difference was in errors. The Mavericks fielded perfectly, while the Clippers suffered through seven slipups.
“The defense let us down a little bit,” said head coach Mike Barten. “It was a step down from what we’ve seen.”
But Barten said the Clippers quickly recognized when they made a mental mistake, and that was a positive take away.
“As soon as the errors happened, the girls realized what happened, and I love that they knew it wasn’t the throw to make or the play to make. They knew right away, so I didn’t have to say anything. We’ll tighten it up.”
Kaylee Karels and Sophie Shouler each singled in the first, and Karels scored on a Lexy Waldron single.
The Mavericks responded in the second with four runs and then added two more in the top of the third for a 6-1 advantage.
The Clippers posted four runs in the third when Shouler and Kiera Schipper singled. Shouler crossed the plate on a Laci Hollerich ground out. Schipper scored on a Cassandra Connor double. Connor came home when Harley Connor sent a ball over the center field fence to pull her team within one, 6-5.
The Mavericks extended their lead in the fourth with four more runs on a Clipper error, a walk and three hits.
In the fourth, Shouler walked, Schipper and Waldron singled to load the bases. Hollerich got an RBI free pass, and Schipper scored on a Cassandra Connor ground out, but the Clippers still were behind, 10-7.
On three singles, the Mavericks posted a pair of runs in the fifth for a 12-7 lead, but the Clippers scored four more runs when Emma Sweere led off the bottom of the fifth with a double. Karels and Shouler walked before Schipper and Waldron each hit two-RBI singles to pull within a run, 12-11.
But the Mavericks took advantage of two errors and four singles in the sixth for four more runs to widen their advantage.
“I told the girls ‘This is good. This is playoff softball,’” said Barten. “You’re going to have highs and you’re going to have lows. There were a couple of calls that maybe fans didn’t agree with, but I think the umpires got them right. We had a full gamut of emotions, and that is a great thing to have before playoffs.”
The Clippers’ final run came in the seventh when Schipper got on board on an error, stole second and scored on a Cassandra Connor single.
The Clippers racked up 17 hits, two more than MCW, and struck out five times against a quartet of Maverick pitchers.
Harley Connor had a homer and a pair of singles and walked twice. Schipper and Waldron each hit a hat trick of singles. Karels and Cassandra Connor each hit a double and a single. Shouler had a pair of singles and walked twice. Greta Hahn hit two singles. Sweere had one double.
Delaney Thompson got the start. In two and a thirds inning, she allowed four hits. Hailey Plonsky entered the circle in relief and finished the third inning and then threw for another inning and two thirds. She allowed seven hits and one walk. Lilly Lamont took over after that. She gave up four hits and recorded the only strikeout the Clippers had.
In ceremony afterwards, the All-Conference award winners were presented. The winners are only selected based on their six conference games. For the Clippers, Shouler and Hollerich made the first team. Harley Connor was selected for the second team. Cassandra Connor and Plonsky were honorable mentions.
The winner of today’s section game plays at the high seed.
Above: Conference award winners Cassandra Connor, Harley Connor, Laci Hollerich, Sophie Shouler and Hailey Plonsky.
Harley Connor turns around third base during her home run trip. Connor also hit a homer on the same field in last year’s showcase.
Teammates greet Harley Connor as she reaches home plate after her home run.
Cassandra Connor hit a double and a single.
Delaney Thompson coils after a comebacker.
Shortstop Sophie Shouler lines up to catch a throw during a steal.
Emma Sweere makes a diving catch in left field.
The softball girls chill as they wait the All-Conference ceremony.