Going into Monday, the North Pike Jaguars knew that one win over Wayne County would catapult them into the Class 5A State Championship series.
Even though the Jaguars put up a strong fight, they fell 6-5 in Game 2 and 5-4 in Game 3, ending their season.
North Pike head coach Sonya Wallace spoke highly of how her team battled throughout the games despite coming up short.
“They went out there and battled all the way through and never gave up,” she said. “That is all that I can ask of them, they just went out there and played hard.”
The Jaguars (25-11) got on the board first in the second inning when seventh-grader Abby Burnette doubled to left, bringing in Meredith Bates and Emilie Williams and putting North Pike up 2-0.
The War Eagles cut that lead in half in the third when they got a double of their own.
But the Jaguars answered right back, making it a two-run lead once again on a sacrifice bunt by Jenna Brock.
In the fourth, Wayne County once again pulled to within one run on a fielder’s choice.
A Meredith Bates fielder’s choice in the fifth pushed the Jaguar lead back to two, making the score 4-2.
However, Wayne County responded by going on a run in the bottom half of the inning.
The War Eagles took advantage of errors on back-to-back at bats helping to build a three-run inning to take their first lead at 5-4.
After Jenna Brock was hit by a pitch and Madison Moak reached on an error, Janiah Talbert brought Brock home with a sacrifice fly to center, tying the game at 5.
Both teams continued to battle, taking the game into extra innings, but a pair of errors in the bottom of the eighth helped Wayne County get the walk-off win.
In Game 3, the War Eagles struck first, getting a pair of walks sandwiched around a pair of singles to jump ahead 3-0.
North Pike responded with a run in the second inning to pull even. Kaylea Wagner and Meredith Bates got back-to-back singles then Joli Spears reached on an error, plating a run.
Another run crossed home during the ensuing at bat when Natalie Deer singled.
Next up was Burnette, who laid down a sacrifice bunt, allowing the third run to score.
Wayne County jumped back ahead, taking a 5-3 lead in the third with a two-run double to right.
The Jaguars tried to answer but were shut down in order during the next two innings.
North Pike was able to get a run in the seventh on a single by Jenna Brock, but the Jaguars could not get another as Wayne County escaped with the one-run win, securing a berth in the state championship.
Looking back on the year, Wallace praised her team for their play throughout the season.
“I’m just extremely proud of the girls for how they fought this season,” she said. “I can’t say enough about the four seniors (Mary Kate Bates, Janiah Talbert, Madison Moak and Jenna Brock) and what they have done for us. We are just extremely proud of them and we will miss them next year. They will be hard to replace.”