Your Prep Sports
SOLON – Both sides got exactly what they expected on Friday when familiar postseason foes Solon and Benton Community played a tightly contested, tension-filled one-run game.
It was the way that Benton Community emerged with a 3-2 win that was the surprise.
The Bobcats overcame six errors with a two-run home run and some nifty pitching by Katelyn Buscher to earn its third win of the season over Solon in the fourth postseason meeting between the two WAMAC rivals in six seasons in a Class 3A, Region 5 semifinal in Solon.
“It was absolutely the type of game I expected against them,” Benton Community coach Eric Stenberg said. “When you play them it’s going to be which team can play strong in the clutch and which team can handle the pressure. We had a bad inning but to our kids credit they made the plays in that last inning.”
The win sends Benton Community (15-8) to the Region 5 title game on Monday against third-ranked Williamsburg (23-4) which defeated Roland-Story on Friday.
It was the third win for Benton Community over Solon in less than two weeks after the Bobcats swept a regular season doubleheader on July 6 15-11 and 7-6.
“This is exactly what I was expecting,” Solon coach Dave Johnson said. “I was expecting more of a low scoring game than a few weeks ago and I expected it to be a one-run game. It was pretty much what I expected both teams made some mistakes along the way and we made too many mistakes on the base paths and that really hurt us at the end of the day.”
Solon (20-13) had plenty of opportunities on Friday.
The Spartans had a baserunner in every inning but the second, racking up eight hits but lost three runners on the base paths and left 11 runners on base.
Solon stranded seven runners in scoring position and had another runner thrown out at third base.
“I don’t know how many we left on base but I’m sure it was double digits and that’s one of the things that we’ve struggled with,” Johnson said. “We’ve scored a lot of runs this year don’t get me wrong but in big games, in one-run ball games that we’ve been in, that has been where we have struggled is we’ve left too many on base.”
Benton Community took a 1-0 lead when Brielle Hogan led off the third inning with a single and later scored on a bases loaded walk to Jaida Lyons.
Buscher made it 3-0 in the fourth when she lined an 0-2 pitch over the right field fence for a two-run homer.
Benton Community saw a 3-0 lead cut to a run after committing a pair of errors in a two-run Solon fifth.
Jadyn Jeter and Kayla West both plated runs with RBI bunts in the inning.
The Bobcats had two more miscues in the sixth but Buscher escaped a bases loaded jam when Hilary Wilson’s hard hit line drive was hauled in on the warning track in center field.
“I felt like for the most part we hit the ball pretty well today and hit it hard we just hit it at people,” Johnson said. “That’s kind of the game of softball some days.”
Buscher helped herself out in the seventh inning when she snagged a hard hit line drive off the bat of Monet Barnhouse for the second out.
Ava Stebral singled with two outs but Buscher got Peyton Sands to ground to second to end the game.
Kate made a phenomenal play on the comebacker line drive, that’s a game changer,” Stenberg said. “Hats off to her she played out of her mind, she played really well.”
Buscher picked up the win allowing two runs on eight hits while striking out two and walking two.
“We had a plan how to pitch to these girls and she executed perfectly,” Stenberg said. “I give so much credit to Kate for doing what she did tonight. That’s her best performance of the year and it couldn’t come at a better time.”
Stebral and Meghan O’Neill each had a pair of hits for Solon while Camryn Keith had a hit and scored a run.
Jeter had an RBI while fellow senior Kayla West took the loss allowing three runs on seven hits while striking out two and walking one.
“I’m super proud of our seniors,” Johnson said. “They’ve been so rock solid for us all year.”
Benton 001 200 0 – 3 7 6
Solon 000 020 0 – 2 8 0
W – Katelyn Buscher L – Kayla West
HR – BC: Katelyn Buscher