Despite a ferocious comeback attempt in the top of the sixth inning Saturday (May 26), the Paris Lady Tigers were unable to close the gap before falling 10-7 to top-seeded Chatham Glenwood in the Class 3A regional championship game.
The loss marked the end of the season for Paris, a team that has fought fiercely through nearly every game all season, finishing just above .500 on the year.
After a scoreless first three innings for the Lady Tigers, they managed to drive in three runs in the top of the fourth inning.
This put them a run ahead of the Titans briefly before the Chatham-Glenwood bats woke up, scoring six runs in the bottom of the fourth.
After a slow fifth inning, the Tigers again roared back to life, scoring four runs in the top of the sixth. This left the team trailing 8-7 with less than two innings of play to go. However, several fruitless at-bats and a pair of Titan runs kept them at bay, with Paris ending the contest down 10-7.
“This Paris team is one of the most passionate groups of individuals I have seen,” said Paris Head Coach Jeremy Clodfelder. “To see the looks on their faces, in their eyes, I know exactly how much that this meant to them. It’s unfortunate that it ended today.”
The Lady Tigers faced an up and down season as they battled through tough game after tough game, the majority of them being just within reach. Of 14 losses this season, five of them were within one run while seven more were within two.
Players also fought through multiple injuries in the season, one of the most notable to Kelsie Dorsch with a thumb injury.
Despite all of this, the team found its groove at the right time, winning 10-7 on the road at Casey in early May. This spurred a four game win-streak that saw the Lady Tigers decimate opponents and charge them through postseason play.
“This group is so unselfish. They play anywhere that we need them to for the good of the team,” said Clodfelder “Whitney Todd and Carlei Sapp were always willing to mix it up and as a head coach that helps a lot.”
Much of the team consisted of freshmen and sophomores. Along with that youth can come inexperience. Senior Terra Fancher stepped up for the Lady Tigers and was a consistent leader.
“She has been incredible all year long and has been a big part of who we are as a team,” said Clodfelder.
Though over now, the 2018 season for Paris was one to remember and for the seniors, it will be just that. However, the youth that made up this team will be back and much more experienced come the following spring.
Among those returning are several individuals who etched their names in the 2018 Little Illini Softball All-Conference team. Kaitlyn Mathews secured a first-team selection for Paris. Sydney Fox and Carlei Sapp were both selected to second-team all-conference, and Kelsie Dosch was an honorable mention for all-conference.
“I couldn’t be more proud of every single girl on this team. The passion and the fight that they showed all season and into the playoffs, that is what made this group special,” Clodfelder said.