SOFTBALL: Saline's Season Comes to an End in the Regional Semifinal

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The Saline softball team's season came to an end in the regional final Saturday at Howell High School.

Lincoln scored three runs in the fifth inning and defeated Saline, 4-3, to advance to the regional championship.

The Hornets, coached by Laura Vaccaro, finished the season with a 25-13 record, the SEC Red championship and the district championship.

The Hornets knew they were in for a challenge Saturday. On May 19, Saline dropped a doubleheader to Lincoln, 2-0 and 8-5. In the regional semifinal, Saline struck first, scoring two runs in the top of the first.

First, Clara Cherry continued her power surge, hitting a homerun over the centerfield fence with two out. Abby Kleinschmidt followed with a double to centerfield and scored on a double by Emily Sweetland.

Lincoln got one back from the Hornets in the bottom of the inning. With one out, the next two batters reached base on errors. Catcher Lauren Holloway helped the Hornet cause by throwing out a runner stealing second. But a Lincoln single scored one run before senior ace Elaina Walker got a fly out to end the inning.

Saline got the run back in the top of the second. Karli Dorr led off with a double to center. She scored on a single by Holloway. Megan Guerard followed with a double to center to put runners at second and third. Saline led 3-1 with no outs in the second inning and already had a home run, four doubles and a single. But the power surge ended there.

In the pitcher's circle, Walker was having a great game - but the Hornets booted the ball around the field a little too much. Walker retired the side in order in the second. In the third, she allowed a single and struck out batters. In the fourth, Walker actually struck out four batters (on reached on a passed ball). Another batter reached on an error and Walker walked one batter. But with the bases loaded, Walker punched out the batter for the third out.

In the fifth, Lincoln took over with three runs. The Railsplitters used three singles, a double and a sacrifice fly to take a 4-3 lead.

In the top of the seventh, Saline mounted a final charge. With one out, Sara Owen and Cherry singled, but Lincoln pitcher Lauren Snyder retired the next two batters to seal the victory.

Saline finished with 10 hits. Sweetland (2-for-4, 1 RBI) and Cherry (2-for-4, 1 RBI, 1 run) led the attack at the plate.

In the circle, Walker allowed six hits and four runs (three earned). She walked two while striking out nine and gave up just one extra-base hit.

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