NEWARK — Many times in sports, the past is just the past, in that the results from previous contests have little bearing in the next matchup, especially when it's a postseason one.
That was the case in Wednesday afternoon's Newark Class 1A Regional semifinal as the host Lady Norsemen trailed Serena, a team they had beaten twice this season by a combined score of 23-5, by two runs heading to the bottom of the fifth. However, Newark — the sub-sectional's No. 4 seed — plated the tying runs in that frame and took advantage of a trio of errors by the No. 6-seeded Lady Huskers to push across the winning run in the sixth to advance to the regional championship game with a 4-2 victory.
"I told the girls that the scores of the previous two games don't mean anything and that they needed to go out and do their thing, stay focused and push though," said Newark coach Tim Schofield, his team now playing Marquette Academy at 11 a.m. Saturday for the regional title. "We didn't hit the ball as hard as we should have in my opinion in certain spots, but we did enough to make things happen in a positive way."
Serena (12-11) took a 1-0 lead in the second as Mackenzie Harris opened the frame with a double down the left-field line off Newark starting and winning pitcher Sophie Schomer. Harris moved to third on a passed ball and scored on Brianna Engle's single to left. The Lady Huskers made it 2-0 in the fifth with Emma Holdiman lining a one-out single, moving to third on a double off the base of the fence in left by Susan Tuftie and eventually scoring on a wild pitch. Meanwhile, Serena starting and losing pitcher Engel (6 IP, 4 R, 2 ER, 8 H, 2 BB, 9 K) worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the third and struck out six.
"(Engel) has gotten stronger as the season has gone on without a doubt," said Serena coach Kelly Baker. "The last few games, including today, she has done a phenomenal job of hitting her spots. She knows who the hitters are, what to throw and reading the situation."
Newark (18-6) evened things up in the fifth, starting with Emily Schofield's bunt single. Alyssa Schofield followed with a base hit, and after Engel fanned the next hitter, Coach Schofield had Nikki Kala lay down a sacrifice bunt to move runners to second and third, now with two outs. Becca Sweeney lined a two-strike pitch down the line in left to score the Schofields and make it 2-2.
"I had the confidence that Becca was going to put the ball in the outfield somewhere in that situation," said Coach Schofield. "I felt more than likely we weren't going to score all the way from first base with the speed we had on there, so I'll give up an out to get two runners in scoring position even with two outs. It was a situational decision, and we weren't making a lot of good solid contact, so I was just hoping Becca could push one through to the outfield, and she did."
In the sixth, Engel fanned the first batter, but Jocelyn MItchell reached on a dropped fly ball. Skyler Chavoen bunted Mitchell to second before the next two batters reached and scored on flyballs misplayed in left-center to make it 4-2. Schomer (7 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 9 K) then worked around Engel's second hit of the game leading off the seventh, including striking out the final hitter of the game.
It was the last time in a Lady Huskers uniform for Engel, Harris, Kaitlyn Fuchs, McKenna Muffler and Kylie Shannon.
"There is a closeness to this group, and I know most of them earned (regional championship) banners in volleyball and basketball this year and wanted to add one more to the walls back in our gym," said Baker, who returned as head coach after stepping away six years ago. "We knew it wouldn't be easy, but we also felt it would be tough for Newark to beat us three times.
"I feel we played a good game today, but we just didn't make a couple of plays that we needed to make."
Newark 4, Serena 2
SERENA (2) — Tuftie rf 4-0-1-0, Shannon 2b 3-0-0-0, M. Holdiman ss 3-0-1-0, Hook 3b 3-0-0-0, Harris c 3-1-1-0, M. Staton 1b 3-0-0-0, Kaforski pr 0-0-0-0, Engel p 3-0-2-1, Cantlin cr 0-0-0-0, Kuhn cf 3-0-0-0, E. Holdiman lf 3-1-1-0. Totals 28-2-6-1.
NEWARK (4) — A. Schofield ss 4-1-2-0, N. Sweeney 2b 4-0-1-0, Kala cf 2-0-1-0, B. Sweeney 1b 3-0-2-2, Tomsa rf 2-0-0-0, Hatteberg dh 0-0-0-0, Schomer p 0-0-0-0, Adams ph 1-0-0-0, Mitchell 3b 3-1-0-0, Chavoen lf 2-0-1-0, E. Schofield c 3-2-1-0. Totals 24-4-8-2.
Serena (12-11) 010 010 0 — 2 6 3
Newark (18-6) 000 022 x — 4 8 1
DPT — Serena 1, Newark 1. LOB — Serena 5, Newark 7. 2B — Tuftie, Harris, A. Schofield, B. Sweeney. CS — Chavoen. SAC — Kala, Tomsa, Chavoen.
Serena ip r er h bb k
Engel (L) 6.0 4 2 8 2 9
Schomer (W) 7.0 2 2 6 0 9