Preston wishes it could have another shot at top-ranked Akron-Westfield.
Preston (31-7) committed two errors and left seven runners on base, batting 1 for 4 with runners in scoring position and 3 for 12 with runners on base. Also, the Trojans' ace, Kelcie Bormann, wasn't at the top of her game, leading to a 5-1 loss Thursday in a Class 1A softball state tournament semifinal.
"Bottom line, they did not beat us," Preston coach Sarah Manning said. "We beat ourselves. We had errors. We didn't hit the ball like we normally do."
Bormann, who was third in the state in regular-season strikeouts, didn't record her first punchout until the sixth inning. It was only the fourth time this season the Trojans allowed five or more runs.
"That team is a team that will get in your head," Manning said. "At the beginning of the game, their coach was right over talking to the umpires, trying to get our pitcher for illegal. That was in our pitcher's head. She didn't pitch her best and that just brought our team down."
Akron-Westfield (35-1) hasn't lost to a Class 1A team all season. The top-seeded Westerners — and their head games — brought out some nerves in the Trojans. Nerves that weren't there in Preston's 7-0 quarterfinal victory over Treynor on Monday.
"We were playing the No. 1 team, and they got in our heads the first inning," Manning said. "That took it from there."
Preston grabbed an early lead but couldn't hold it.
Bormann led off the bottom of the first inning with a single and advanced to second on an error. She moved to third on Nicole Trenkamp's sacrifice bunt.
Megan Zeimet then hit a 1-0 bloop single to right field, scoring Bormann.
The Trojans had other chances but couldn't capitalize. Their best chance came in the fifth inning, when they were trailing 3-1.
Bormann got things started with a one-out walk, and Trenkamp followed with a single. After a strikeout, Lizzie Meier singled to load the bases. But with two outs, Cassie Aldis popped out to the second baseman, ending the threat.
"We left the bases loaded and that hurts," Manning said. "You've got to hit the ball when it counts, string hits together."
Despite having the Westerners in her head, Bormann held them down the first time through the lineup.
Sarah Parkinson led off the game by reaching on an error, but she was caught stealing. After that, Bormann retired the next eight batters.
But things changed in the fourth inning.
Parkinson drew a leadoff walk, Bormann's first of the tournament. Monica Harvey singled to left field on an 0-2 pitch, bringing up the Westerners’ pitcher, Brandi Davis.
Davis hit a hot-shot single that bounced off Preston shortstop Meier, scoring the game-tying run.
A sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position. Then Harvey scored on a passed ball.
The Westerners could have extended their lead beyond one, but Bormann threw out courtesy runner Kortney Hedlund at home on a fielder's choice.
In the fifth inning, Jaclyn Smith hit a leadoff single for the Westerners and advanced to second on a passed ball. She moved to third on a groundout and came in to score on an RBI single by Dana Hedlund.
Akron-Westfield added to that lead in the top of the seventh. With Hedlund on first base, Parkinson hit a home run over the fence in left field.
The Trojans face another team that would like a re-do of their semifinal in today's 6 p.m. third-place game.
Previously unbeaten Martensdale-St. Marys (38-1) gave up nine first-inning runs in a 14-7 loss to North Sentral Kossuth/Armstrong-Ringstead.
Manning said she didn't expect the Trojans' loss to linger.
"They'll put it behind them," she said. "They'll be ready to go tomorrow. We should take third."
AKRON-WESTFIELD 5, PRESTON 1
A-W 000 210 2 — 5 6 2
Preston 100 000 0 — 1 5 2
Brandi Davis (W 25-1, 7 ip, 5 h, 1 r, 0 er, 2 bb, 5 k) and Sarah Parkinson; Kelcie Bormann (L 29-5, 7 ip, 6 h, 5 r, 4 er, 2 bb, 4 k) and Megan Zeimet. Multiple hits — Akron-Westfield (Monica Harvey 2-4). HR — Akron-Westfield (Parkinson). RBIs — Akron-Westfield (Parkinson 2, Davis, Dana Hedlund); Preston (Megan Zeimet).