ST. PETERSBURG — Seven River Christian’s run in softball regionals ended on Wednesday night at Canterbury, but for the Crusaders it may be just the beginning.
The Warriors fell in a Region 2A-3 quarterfinal as host Canterbury limited them to just one hit and two baserunners en route to a 4-0 victory.
“There’s a difference between losing and being beat. When you’re beat you can live with that. You’re not happy with it, but you can live with it simply because the other team played better than you,” Seven Rivers head coach Gary Dreyer said. “And that’s what I feel like happened today, is we played a very good team that played better than we did.
“I think the girls played well. The other team is very good. Their pitchers are very good and they’re obviously well-coached. They’re always in the mix for state championships every year. So it’s nothing to be ashamed of to be beaten by a team that’s that good.”
Mackenzie Bergstrom and Morgen Talley were the stars on the mound for the Crusaders (19-9). Bergstrom started and threw the first five innings, walking Jennah Kay Phillips in the second inning and giving up a single to right field by Melody Byers in the fourth. Byers was the only Seven Rivers (13-6) runner to reach second base.
Bergstrom struck out six, then gave way to Talley for the final two innings. Talley retired all six batters she faced, five of them via strikeout.
“For the most part they were throwing strikes, and they were throwing a lot of inside strikes. And the girls have to make a big adjustment to get those inside strikes,” Dreyer said. “We work on it in practice. Our coaches have really put a lot of time into hitting this year. Once you get into live action, though, it becomes a little bit tighter and it’s a big game and all those things.
“I just think their pitchers placed the ball well, especially their first pitcher. She was throwing a lot of inside strikes. And that’s hard for the kids to hit. They’re coming back sticking their bodies out as if it’s going to hit them, but in reality it’s a strike. It looks like it’s not. They just pitched really well. When you can spot the ball, it’s a big deal.”
Canterbury broke open a scoreless game by sending eight batters to the plate in the bottom of the third inning. With runners on the corners and one out, Talley laid down a nice bunt in front of home plate. Both the pitcher and first baseman raced in to grab the ball, leaving no one covering first as a run scored. Kaili Cannon followed by lining a two-run single into left.
The Crusaders tacked on another run in the fourth, when Cannon grounded a ball up the middle stopped by diving shortstop Mckayla Smith, but there was no play and it went for a RBI infield single.
“I think we played good defense,” Dreyer said. “Offensively their pitchers just beat us. Even when we made contact we weren’t getting a heck of a lot behind the contact. So I would say playing defense like that is going to keep you in the game, especially against a team like this because they’re going to pounce on every mistake you make.”
While Canterbury will go on for possibly the next several rounds, the Warriors were left to evaluate the now completed season.
“We’re proud of the girls. They’ve had a good season, fought back. Every team we lost to is a district champ,” Dreyer said. “I’m guessing they’ll all be playing again next Monday and that’s kind of our tradition, to lose our last game of the year to the state champions.
“Our whole goal is to get them to glorify God in what they’re doing and we feel like they’ve done with their efforts and their attitudes. We always want to win. Like I told them, I’m not happy with losing. But the fact of the matter is, is if they’ve given everything they have throughout the season then there’s nothing to put your head down about.”