FERDINAND -- A series of poorly timed errors and sluggish bats all day long were what separated the South Putnam softball team and a trip to the regional championship game Saturday.
The Rebels went on to a 3-0 win over Brownstown Central and a berth in this weekend's state finals.
But whether it was nerves for the Eagles or a simple case of bad luck, early problems continued to haunt them all day, as they could not establish their offense.
"Today we struggled a little, got down in the first inning," Eagle Coach Evonne Canary said. "That kind of took us out of it a little bit mentally."
After Rebel pitcher Maggie Little retired the Eagles in order in the top of the first, Kyndal Thompson put the pressure on South Putnam with a triple down the left field line. Sister Kerrie Thompson drove her in to put the Rebels on the board.
Already down, the Eagles committed a series of errors to put themselves in a deeper hole. The next two batters reached on a pair of errors. Another error put them at second and third with just one out.
Then on a fourth South Putnam error in three at bats, both Jenna Seiler and Little reached home.
Having given up only one hit, Eagle pitcher Samantha Tomasino was trailing 3-0 after one inning.
Continuing to struggle with their own offense, the Eagles saw the Rebels add a couple more runs in the next two innings.
In the second, Kyndal Thompson drove in Sam Beatty to build a 4-0 lead.
Then on the opening at bat of the third, Little gave herself another insurance run, taking the Tomasino pitch over the center field fence.
Trailing 5-0, Canary had to pull Tomasino. The sophomore had given up five runs on four hits and four errors in two innings.
But after the fielding disasters of the first, hitting was the real problem for the Eagles.
"We couldn't get our bats going. That was the big thing. If you give up runs, you have to be able to earn them as well," Canary said.
South Putnam's one hit came when Boetjer doubled in the top of the second.
Their only run came in the sixth. Bailey Birt reached on an error and moved to second on another error. Allysia Lollar moved her to third on a sacrifice grounder and Krystal Welch drove her in with another sacrifice.
That was it for scoring offense, though. Little gave up one run on one hit and two errors. She struck out four Eagles in seven innings.
Boetjer continued to perform well in relief, as she gave up no runs on two hits and a walk in four innings. She struck out four Rebels.
But looking back on the season, Canary had no complaints. The team won 22 games on its way to WCC and sectional titles. It was certainly a good year.
"Overall, we had a heck of a season. These girls have worked hard and they've had a tremendous year, every one of them," Canary said.
More importantly, the coach also recognized her team's character.
"I don't think there's a finer bunch of young ladies to represent our county in this tournament today. I'm really happy with them," she said.
Saturday marked the last game for Eagle seniors Birt, Meghan Canary and Samantha Stanifer.
"They've been tremendous leaders all year," Coach Canary said. "The three of them are a good bunch of girls. You have to credit their parents. I've told the parents before, 'With a fine set of girls, you have to give credit to the parents.' They've raised them that way."
On the other hand, the Eagles return most of their roster. The group has tasted success and the coach expects more.
"We're going to miss the seniors, but we've got a lot of talent left, and expect some more coming up," Canary said. "They're young still. We're only graduating three, so there's going to be a lot of experience on this team.
"Next year's another year. It's been a great season this year," she concluded.
At Cedar Crest Intermediate School
Forest Park 2A Softball Regional
South Putnam 000 001 0 -- 1 1 4
South Spencer 311 000 X -- 5 6 2
Tomasino, Boetjer (3) and Canary; Little and Smith.
2B -- Boetjer (SP), Beatty (SS).
3B -- Ky. Thompson (SS).
HR -- Little (SS).
South Putnam finishes the season 22-4.