GREENVILLE — When the season started Derek Lee knew he was going to put a solid team on the field.
What he got in return was something he never expected.
Lee, the head coach of National Trail’s softball team, watched as his team won sectional and district championships on its way to a regional semifinal berth.
That’s where the season ended, but Lee could not have been more pleased with his team despite a 10-3 loss to state No. 4 ranked Mechanicsburg in a Division IV regional semifinal on Wednesday, May 22, at Greenville’s Stebbins Field.
“I just couldn’t be more proud of them,” Lee said. “The way we played all season. We beat some teams that we weren’t supposed to beat. That was something we’ve been working on. That was our goal from last year. We finished seventh in the league last year and we finished third this year.”
Lee said the biggest obstacle was getting his team to believe it was good enough to compete.
Trail (17-8) was making its first regional appearance since 1991.
“Just getting over that hump. Making them believe,”he said. “We had some big win.”
Mechanicsburg, though, presented a tall challenge.
The Indians launched three home runs in the second inning to grab a commanding 7-1 lead and with junior ace Francys King in the circle that was all the runs they needed.
King tossed a complete game, allowing just six hits while striking out five. She did not walk a batter.
Megan Alspaugh led the way offensively.
The sophomore center fielder was 3-for-4 with a home run and drove in five runs. She drove in two runs in the first, two more in the second on a home run to center and doubled in another run in the fourth.
She had plenty of help.
Leadoff hitter Taylor Hurst was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Audrey Ayers was 3-for-4 with with an RBI. Kasey Schipfer was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
The Indians collected 13 hits as team.
“They just hit. They’ve got a lot of disciplined hitters that wait for their pitch. They’re not going to swing at a bad pitch,” Lee said. “Sooner or later, you’ve got to try and fool them or something.”
Mechanicsburg held a 2-1 lead heading to the bottom of the second before breaking the game open.
Daytaviah Rogers led off the inning with a solo homer to left for a 3-1 lead. Schipfer followed with a solo shot to right center for a 4-1 advantage. Ayars added an RBI single to make it 5-1. Then Alspaugh followed with a 2-run homer to straight away center to make it 7-1.
The Indians made it a 9-1 game with a pair of runs in the fourth. Alspaugh doubled to bring in a run and Hanna DeLong added an RBI single.
The Blazers added a run in the fifth and another in the sixth.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the way they stayed in there and fought hard,” Lee said. “(We) never got down and stayed positive. That reflects back on this whole run. All season really, we’ve been that way.”
Junior Davlyn Warner led Trail with two hits and an RBI. Junior Makena Laird added a hit and scored two runs.
The loss ended the high school careers of Savanna Abner, Bobbi Jean Grimses, Gracie Jones and Kayleigh Minner.
“We’re going to miss the seniors, but we’ve got some really good players returning. We’ll have some holes to fill, but we have some good, solid young kids coming up,” Lee said.
“I’m proud of them (seniors). Two years ago they won a league title. All those weekends in the summer, this is what’s its for, this right here. The four seniors, I couldn’t be more proud of them. I’m going to miss them.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH