Emotional ending

Wednesday’s state softball consolation games were more about remembering the past several years than the the final placing for St. Edmond.

The sixth-ranked (Class 2A) Gaels finished sixth following a 4-3 loss to No. 11 Jesup in the fifth-place game on Yankee Diamond at Rogers Park.

Earlier in the day, St. Edmond (27-10 overall) defeated Lawton-Bronson, 4-2.

For four members of the green and white, this was the final time suiting up under the guidance of SEHS head coach Paul Hunt. Seniors Katie Donnelly, Allie Oberg, Josie Heesch and Katy Bocken all finished their careers right where they wanted to be.

“Sixth isn’t what we set out to accomplish, but it’s still a great achievement for these girls,” Hunt said. “The seniors, while not representing a large class, will leave a huge hole in terms of both our lineup and our program.

“They have meant so much over these past several years. I told them all out on the field (after the game) that next season, when we are competing for a state title, they will be as much a part of that team as they were this one.”

Donnelly, who earned the win over Lawton-Bronson, pitched a total of just over 12 innings on the afternoon, striking out 12 and allowing just two earned runs.

Heesch collected a huge two-RBI hit in the opener, while Bocken had two steals and Oberg delivered an RBI versus Jesup.

“This is always a hard day,” Hunt said. “You play that first game, get loose and feel ready to go, but you have to sit around and wait for just long enough that the muscles tighten up. Plus, you know it’s the end.”

In the fifth-place game, the J-Hawks (30-13) were able to rally with runs in the fourth and sixth, grouped around two in the fifth. Tessa Clayton hit a home run, and Kelsey Lough was able to induce a grounder to end the contest with the bases loaded.

“We had a few opportunities that we just couldn’t capitalize on,” Hunt said. “Things didn’t go our way, but these girls have nothing to be disappointed about.

“We had a great season, and we ended it where several other teams would have liked to have been – at state.”

While the four seniors depart, the rest of the Gael lineup will return with a year of state experience under their belt.

That includes eighth-grade catcher Maggie Harvey, who had a triple and a double in the second affair. Amanda Lansman relieved Donnelly and got two outs. She will be the main pitcher as a junior next season.

Jessica Kuebler collected two hits and an RBI, and will anchor an infield that returns three of four starters next season, including Anna Yung and Brigid Hanley. Two members of the outfield – Jaci Stumpf and Cassie Sells – are also underclassmen.

“We will have a lot of experience returning, but we know that what we do between now and the start of next season is what will make the biggest difference,” Hunt said.