It wasn’t evident through the first five innings, but the Jacobs softball team had a little chip on its shoulder in regards to its No. 5 regional seed.
But when it came off in the final two innings, Courtney Cotugno and Sarah Murray were personally responsible for not only doing so, but for helping Jacobs to play another game.
Cotugno, who was called out at second on a controversial call in the fourth, redeemed herself in the sixth by singling home Murray, who doubled earlier in the inning, for the first Jacobs run in a 5-0 win over No. 4 Crystal Lake South in a Class 4A Jacobs regional play-in game in Crystal Lake Monday.
Got that? In order for No. 5 Jacobs to host a regional game on its own field, the Golden Eagles had to travel to South and win. Jacobs, which advanced to the Elite Eight last year, will now host No. 1 seed Cary-Grove today at home in a regional semifinal at 4:30 p.m.
Murray, who was 2-for-4, clobbered a 3-run homer in a 4-run seventh for added insurance as the Golden Eagles (17-14) pounded out 5 runs on 7 hits in the final two innings.
“We were upset that we kind of got the five-seed and had to play in the play-in game,” said Murray. “But we wanted to show them we shouldn’t have gotten it. That we’re ready to play.”
Jacobs coach Jeremy Bauer added: “They just didn’t want to give up. They didn’t want to end their season on the road. When the seedings came out it was actually pretty controversial of how it all played out but when it came right down to it we knew we were going to have to play a team like this, who is capable of winning and it could have been a coin flip. For five, six and a half innings it was really tight, it could have gone either way.”
It really could have based on the way Hailee Massie and Kelsey Peters pitched as neither one could be tagged for any runs through five innings. Peters (16-11) eventually earned the shutout by allowing 5 hits, walking 1 and striking out 8. Massie punched out 9, walked 3 and as was charged with all 5 runs in the loss.
Jacobs had numerous chances as well with runners in scoring position in the first, second and fifth but Massie was able to escape.
The sixth was a different story as Jacobs broke through when Cotugno reached after Murray doubled to lead off the inning, which was the essential game-winner.
“I was ready more than ever, I wanted to get that (hit).” said Cotugno, who was 3-for-3 with a walk.
In the seventh, Mackenzie Vaughn (2-for-3) ripped an RBI double to the gap in right-center for a 2-0 lead. A Jacquelyn Hengler single was followed by Murray’s 3-run bomb to center.
“She was throwing me outside so I was looking for something I could put on the ground, and hopefully get it past their shortstop,” Murray said. “We were coming out of (the sixth) saying ‘like, OK, two is not going to win it.’ They’re a good team, they can hit, we need more, so let’s start another rally.”
South (14-10) stranded runners in the first, second and sixth, along with the bases loaded in the seventh. The Gators also committed 4 errors, 1 in the seventh that proved costly as it allowed Murray to come up.
“They hit the ball hard, they hit in gaps, nobody had done that basically the entire game. They broke it open,” Gators coach Scott Busam said. “The whole time we said it was going to come down to a defensive play. “We made a double play, a throw out at second. We made a couple of clutch defensive plays where I thought we had the momentum and we went to the plate and the momentum fizzled away,” said South coach Scott Busam.
Kara Zybko was 2-for-3 for South.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.