Just when it seems that the story of Summit softball can’t possibly get any wilder, the Lady Spartans find a way to add another remarkable chapter to their tale.
Actually, they added two chapters on Thursday: First, the Lady Spartans clinched a spot in the Class AAA regionals for the first time in the program’s history by beating Independence 9-1 in the District 11-AAA tournament consolation final. Then, hours later, Summit outlasted top-seeded Brentwood, 6-2, in an epic 11-inning marathon to a force a decisive Game 2 between the Lady Bruins and Lady Spartans on Friday night.
“I am so proud of these girls,” said Summit coach Jenny Stevenson about the Lady Spartans, who are hosting the tournament. “Their heart and mental toughness is just incredible. These girls just will not quit.”
No, they won’t. And the facts back up that claim.
Consider this: The team won only six games in the regular season, but has now reeled off five straight wins in the tournament — including four straight victories in the loser’s bracket, followed by Thursday’s late-night victory over Brentwood, which snapped the Lady Bruins’ 15-game winning streak.
“I have never had so much fun playing softball as I am right now,” said Summit’s McKinley Jackson. “We’ve played our hearts out and given it everything we’ve had.”
The Lady Spartans have adopted the motto “refuse to lose” as their rallying cry, and all of the Summit players had the letters “RTL” written on their wrists during Thursday’s games.
Stevenson said it has been gratifying to see her team put the pieces together at just the right time.
“If you look back at our season, we lost so many close games,” she said. “We’ve been through the school of hard knocks, and learned some hard lessons along the way. But we’re finally putting it altogether, and we believe we can win — and that’s the biggest hurdle.”
Here’s a recap of Thursday’s games:
Summit 6, Brentwood 2 (11 innings), District 11-AAA Championship
In classic postseason style, Brentwood ace Hannah Koenig and Summit’s Carly Scott matched each other pitch for pitch for nine intense innings of scoreless softball.
But after the international tie-breaker was put into play in the 10th inning, the offenses for both teams suddenly woke up.
Summit — which had only four hits against Koenig in the first nine innings — plated a pair of runs in the top of the 10th when Alden Mathis delivered an RBI single and Malia Scott added a sacrifice fly to give the Lady Spartans a 2-0 lead.
But the Lady Bruins, showing the type of resolve that enabled them to make an undefeated run through district play, answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning to extend the game. Emily Cockrill drove in the first run of the frame, and Koenig tied the game with an RBI ground-out.
Summit then put together a huge rally in the top of the 11th, sending eight batters to the plate and scoring four runs. The rally — which was keyed by run-scoring singles by both of the Woodside sisters, Kaitlyn and Morgan — was aided by two Brentwood errors in the outfield.
Brentwood put two runners on base in the bottom of the 11th, but couldn’t scratch out a run against Summit’s Taylor Penning, who came on to pitch in the bottom of the 10th and earned the win.
The Lady Bruins left 12 runners stranded in the loss, including five in the first three innings.
Brentwood head coach Erica Powell said the Lady Bruins don’t have time to stew about the loss.
“I told the team (after the game), you have two options: You can go home and worry about the things you didn’t do and the balls you didn’t catch or you can realize that we play again in 24 hours,” Powell said. “We have to let this game go. We’ve been through tough losses before and have been able to bounce back.”
Koenig went all 11 innings for the Lady Bruins. She allowed 10 hits (six of which came in the final two innings) and finished with seven strikeouts and no walks.
Scott delivered a gem of her own for Summit. She pitched into the 10th inning, and limited Brentwood to four hits. She walked four batters — which caused her to get in several tight spots — but bore down whenever Brentwood threatened.
Both of the Woodside sisters finished with two hits and an RBI, and Mathis also had two hits and drove in a run to help send Summit into Friday’s championship game.
“We’ve come back from a really tough season,” said Kaitlyn Woodside, “and to be here right now is just awesome.”
Summit 6, Brentwood 2, District 11-AAA Championship
SUMM – 000 000 000 24 — 6 10 1
BRENT – 000 000 000 20— 2 5 3
WP – Penning. LP – Koenig.
SUMMIT – Apple 1-5, Knox 1-5, K. Woodside 2-5 (RBI), Scott 1-5, Penning 1-4, Mathis 2-5 (RBI), M. Woodside 2-5 (RBI), Scott 0-4, Jackson 0-5.
BRENT – Cassallas 1-5, Mills 1-4, Koenig 0-4 (RBI), Bottoms 0-5, Laviolette 1-4, Seidel 1-5, Gallaway 1-4, Horn 0-4, Cockrill 1-5 (RBI).
2B — Seidel (Brent)
LOB — Summit 7, Brentwood 12.
Summit 9, Independence 1, District 11-AAA Consolation
Jumping out to a quick 5-0 lead after two innings, Summit sailed to a victory and clinched a berth in the AAA regionals.
Summit leadoff hitter Mia Apple — who has played outstanding defense throughout the tournament — finished 2-for-5 with two runs scored and two stolen bases for the Lady Spartans.
Kaitlyn Woodside went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles, Allison Knox added two hits and drove in a run, and Morgan Woodside was 2-for-4 with an RBI.
“We weren’t nervous at all,” said Knox after the win. “We’ve been on a roll, and we came out ready to win the game.”
Summit’s Taylor Penning went the distance in the circle, allowing one run on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts. She allowed just one hit over the first five innings.
For Indy, Jaelyn Chesson hit a home run in the fourth inning.
Summit 9, Independence 1, District 11-AAA Consolation
SUMM – 230 300 1 — 9 13 3
INDY – 000 100 0 — 1 4 1
WP – Penning. LP – Chesson.
SUMMIT – Apple 2-2 (RBI), Knox 1-4 (RBI), Woodside 1-4 (RBI), Scott 1-4 (RBI), Penning 2-2, Mathis 1-4 (RBI), Woodside 1-3 (RBI), Scott 0-3, Jackson 1-1.
INDY – Bond 0-4, Pinckard 0-3, Chesson 1-2 (RBI), Webb 1-3, Huckaby 0-3, Jones 1-3, O’Reilly 1-2, Zentz 0-2, Smith 0-2, Schearer 0-1, Smith 0-1.
2B — K. Woodside 2 (Sum). HR — Chesson (Indy)
LOB — Summit 11, Indy 6.
Editor's Note: In the above story, Summit's win over Brentwood was originally reported to have lasted 12 innings. That has been corrected as the did end in 11 innings. We apologize for the confusion.