WNCC softball falls in Region IX Championship
     2013-05-09      By The Gering Citizen   
SCOTTSBLUFF — It was an defensive battle between the Western Nebraska Community College and Otero Junior College softball teams in the championship game of the Region IX tournament Monday evening at Volunteer Field.

In the end, Otero rallied in the seventh inning and then scored the winning run in the 11th inning to capture the regional title 2-1 over the Cougars. The win sends Otero into the district playoffs where they host No. 1 Butler Community College.

For the Cougars, they end a very successful season that saw a number of team and individual records broken. WNCC finishes the year at 55-10.

WNCC coach Maria Winn-Ratliff said it was a game where both teams played hard.

"I thought both pitchers did a great job and we had some great defensive plays on both sides of the field. We scored a run and then I thought we played with a little bit of confidence," she said. "Then, in the seventh inning, they did what they were supposed to [and score a run]. We then had four innings to put a run across the board and we just couldn't produce when we needed to.

"I have to give a ton of credit to Otero, they fought and they believed they were in the game, and they found a way to score a run. That is what champions do. Unfortunately they are holding the trophy and we are not. But, our kids fought hard and I am very proud of them. It is a tough way to lose. I wish them the best of luck and hope they can represent our region and be able to compete against Butler on Thursday."

There were plenty of tears running down the cheeks of the Cougar players after the heart-breaking loss. But, the team had a fabulous season and Winn-Retliff said there are things that this team did that will be hard to replace.

"There are a lot of things that happened to us this year such as records got broken and there are a lot of special people on this team," she said. "For me there are a lot of memories that were made, but I sure wanted to be a champion and I know they wanted to be one, too. There will be a lot of things that no one can take away from them. i am proud of the group, but sad it is over. I am sad to see some kids leave. But, unfortunately, I have to have a short-term memory and start preparing for next year."

The contest was definitely one that saw many intense innings where the two defenses thwarted each team's offensive threats, including WNCC turning a base loaded double play to get out of the first inning.

The Cougars drew first blood on the scoreboard in the third inning as Kayla Romey scored off a sacrifice fly to left field to put the Cougars up 1-0. The lead stayed that way until the seventh when Otero finally plated a run to tie the game as Veronica Cobas scored on a 2-out double by Savana King.

WNCC had base runners on in the eighth, ninth and 10th innings but couldn't get the bit hit to plate a run. Otero finally broke the tie in the 11th as Rebecca Walker led off the inning with a double and came around to score on a single by Nalani Hernandez.

The Cougas almost tied the game in the 11th but a Lindsey Shiels-Brophy shot came up inches short of going over the fence as the Rattlers survived.

Otero outhit the Cougars 9-4. Jennifer Cottle had only extra base hit with a double. Kasey Cash was on base three times, all by getting hit by a pitch.

BIanca Duran suffered the loss in the circle, going 11 innings in giving up nine hits and striking out seven. Duran faced 46 batters and threw 160 pitches, 98 of which went for strikes. Taylor Hall picked up the win for the Rattlers. She faced 44 batters and threw 187 pitches, 110 of which were strikes.

Monday's Game
Otero (53-9) 000 000 100 01 -- 2 9 0
WNCC (55-10) 001 000 000 00 -- 1 4 3
WP -- Hall, LP -- Duran; 2B -- WNCC (Jennifer Cottle), Otero (Rebecca Walker, Savana King).

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