Back in April, Assumption’s softball team blew a four-run lead with two outs in the seventh inning and lost by one run to archrival Mercy.
Sabrina Fussenegger, who was in the circle that day, didn’t let a repeat happen this time, giving her visiting Rockets a 3-0 victory over 15th-ranked Mercy in Monday night’s rematch.
“Actually no, I blocked all those thoughts out when I went out there,” Fussenegger said when asked if she thought about what happened last time. “I was like, ‘We’re going to beat Mercy this time.’ Those thoughts didn’t even cross my mind. I was completely confident.”
Fussenegger pitched a complete game and allowed only three hits while striking out five and walking one.
“I never once thought about taking Sabrina out in the seventh,” Assumption head coach Lisa Pinkston said. “I’ve got all the faith in the world with Sabrina. It was hers to finish tonight. She’s the ultimate competitor.”
Lexi Ray went the distance for the Jaguars and yielded two earned runs and six hits. Five of those hits came in the first three innings.
“She’s a competitor,” Mercy head coach Greg Meiners said. “She takes it very personally and I think she’s a little more uptight right now because the rest of the team isn’t putting things together. It’s my responsibility to get our engine going.”
Ray led the way for the Jaguars (17-15) with two doubles. Melissa Collins’ double was their other hit.
“I just go up to the plate with confidence knowing that I’m going to hit the ball,” Ray said. “That helped me out a lot.”
Freshman Sydney Young led the Rockets (14-16) with two hits and had an RBI. Jordan Ridge, Kay Nilest, Ashton Dowdy and Maggie Metzger each had one hit. Maranda Thomas and Ridge each had an RBI.
“My team played phenomenal all around tonight,” Pinkston said. “Sabrina was nearly perfect on the mound. Our defense was solid. We have been playing a lot of games lately against tough competition and I think we’re starting to settle in, trusting themselves and letting the game come to them.”
Assumption scored its first run in the second inning. Thomas reached first base when Mercy third baseman Jordyn Sanders mishandled a grounder. Thomas moved to second on Young’s single, took third on another Mercy error and scored on Ridge’s base hit.
“She threw me a pitch right inside and I knew I could drive it,” Ridge said. “I had two strikes and when that happens I know I need to hit it hard on the ground and put it in play and move the runners.”
The Rockets added two more runs in the third. Fussenegger and Nilest led off with back-to-back singles and moved up a base on a wild pitch. Fussenegger scored on a Thomas groundout and Nilest made it 3-0 on Young’s single.
“I think we stayed together as a team this time,” Young said. “We finished the game like we were told we could.”
Meiners is looking for his Jaguars to have some faith and confidence in themselves.
“We didn’t have much fire today,” he said. “We should have a lot more enthusiasm when we play a rival like that. We don’t have much time to fix that. I know this team can put it together. There’s not much difference between the teams in our region and I’ve looked at some scores. We’ve lost 15 games, but we have played a very tough schedule. It was a game I wish we would have come out with a little more fire.”
Meanwhile, the Rockets are still two games under .500, but all 13 of their losses to instate teams are currently ranked and only six of their losses have been by more than two runs.
“I think we need to finish games,” Pinkston said. “If we can stay focused on our goal, and our goal is to win a regional championship, we need to make sure we take it one inning at a time.”