In the eyes of Leyden softball coach Kurt Schuett, the Eagles' season came to an end as soon as Morgan Maize was drilled by a pitch out of the hand of Trinity pitcher Chase Machain.
Maize, Leyden's DePaul-bound star pitcher, was hit on her left side in the fourth inning, resulting in a welt in the left side of her torso, Schuett said. Over the next inning, Maize gave up 8 runs, sealing a 12-6 victory for Trinity in the Class 4A sectional final at Triton College.
Although the hit by pitch opened the door for a 3-run bases-clearing double by Jen Hall, Schuett was convinced that Maize had been hit on purpose. Maize had hit a 2-run home run to tie the game at 3-3 the inning before.
"That's completely dirty," Schuett said. "If you don't want her to hit, you put her on first base with an intentional walk. You don't hit her, bottom line. That affected us the rest of the game because she could not pitch."
While the teams had played back-and-forth softball for the first four innings, Trinity's 5 runs in the fifth inning put the Blazers ahead for good. The rally came on 3 hits, 2 walks and 2 errors. Meanwhile, Leyden's bats went quiet, and it had only one baserunner over the last three innings.
"It stinks that it happened, and it affected my pitching for the rest of the game," Maize said of the hit by pitch. "I tried to suck it up and go out there, but it's right on my ribs, so you feel it when you move. I mean, what are you going to do?"
Despite the loss, Scheutt had nothing but praise for Maize and the rest of the players that helped put Leyden softball on the map. The senior class had 103 victories over the past four years, winning two conference championships and three straight regional titles.
"We'll have other tremendous softball players here at Leyden, of course we will," Schuett said. "Will we have another Morgan Maize? No. She's unique. I think that she really broke down some barriers in regard to our program last year."
Leyden has three players going on to play Division I softball. In addition to Maize at DePaul, catcher Dana Sullivan is playing at Illinois and shortstop April Markowski will play at Eastern Illinois.
Trinity will move on to a supersectional matchup against Marist on Monday at Rosemont Stadium.