The Chester High School Lady Jacket softball team ended its 2022 season with a first-round loss to West Frankfort in the IHSA Class 2A Pinckneyville Regional tournament Monday, May 16.
The higher-seeded Redbirds hosted the first round game and held on for a 5-1 win over Chester to advance to the second round. They lost 2-0 against Zeigler-Royalton.
The Lady Jackets went home with the loss despite playing them close most of the game.
West Frankfort held Chester scoreless in the top of the first inning and then struck in the bottom of the first with 2 runs when Dayanara Degler hit a double and Shelbie Arrington knocked a single to lead 2-0.
Neither team could score in the second or third. In the top of the second, Ashlyn Colvis reached first on a walk but was thrown out when Camrynn Luthy hit into a fielder's choice. Kinsli McCartney then singled to second base, but the Jackets were not able to score. West Frankfort went three-and-out to end the inning.
Chester responded by going three-and-out in the top of the third when Emma Murphy popped out to the pitcher, Kourtney Welton struck out and Alaina Lutman grounded out to the shortstop.
Chester then held the Redbirds to three-and-out as Luthy caught a fly ball in center field, and both Degler and Anna Rolla grounded out to Chester's second baseman Elaina Lutman.
In the top of the fourth, the Lady Jackets narrowed the margin when Kylie Fortner reached first on a single to left field. She later stole home to give the Jackets their only run of the game. Score: 2-1.
The Jackets held the Redbirds to three-and-out again in the bottom of the fourth as third baseman McCartney fielded back-to-back grounders and threw out the first two West Frankfort batters. Pitcher Emma Eggemeyer struck out the third batter.
The fifth inning was scoreless for both teams. Chester's McCartney flew out to left field for the first out and Murphy flew out in foul territory as Redbird catcher Maya Parker made a good effort to catch the ball out of bounds.
Up third for CHS, Eggemeyer singled on a bunt to the catcher, landing safe at first base. Lutman closed the inning flying out in foul territory to third baseman Makane Cass. Score: 2-1.
The Lady Jackets held the Birds again in the bottom of the fifth as Annabelle Hopkins popped out to second baseman Lutman and Eggemeyer struck out Aleah Russell for out number 2.
Presley Sollers and Makane Cass each singled to put two runners on base. With two outs and two on base, Degler flied out to Chester second baseman Lutman to end the inning.
The Jackets threatened to take the lead in the top of the sixth. Fortner hit a double to start things off, then Eggemeyer flied out to the Red Bird pitcher for the first YellowJacket out. Fortner remained on second.
West Frankfort pitcher Annabelle Hopkins then threw four straight balls to Colvis, giving Chester runners on first and second. With Anna Childs at bat, Fortner stole third. Colvis moved to second.
With runners at second and third and one out, things were beginning to look good for the Lady Jackets. Childs struck out looking at the ball for Chester's second out. The exciting and potentially successful inning ended when Fortner was thrown out attempting to steal home. Inning over! Score: 2-1.
The bottom of the sixth proved to be fatal for Chester. Redbird Rolla singled to start the inning. Arrington then struck out for West Frankfort's first out. Parker came up to bat with one out and a runner on first. She singled and Rolla advanced to second.
Lani Wolfe came to bat and hit a sacrifice to Chester first baseman Childs. Parker advanced to second and Rolla advanced to third with two outs. Hopkins then hit a fly ball to Luthy in center field, who bobbled the ball. On the error, Rolla and Parker scored. Score: 4-1.
With two outs, Kourtney Spence came in to bat for Aleah Russel and hit a fly ball to right fielder Alexis Eggemeyer, who committed an error. Hopkins scored on the play and West Frankfort led, 5-1. The sixth inning ended when Chester's Eggemeyer struck out Sollers.
Chester could not catch up in the top of the seventh as McCartney flied out to center field, Murphy flied out to third base, and Luthy was caught stealing second base to end the game.
Hopkins took the win for West Frankfort and Eggemeyer had the loss for Chester. Hopkins allowed 4 hits and 1 run over seven innings. She struck out 4 Lady Jacket batters. Eggemeyer pitched all six innings for Chester. She allowed 5 runs on 7 hits with 7 strike outs.
Fortner led the Jackets with 2 hits in three at bats. She also stole 3 of 5 YellowJacket stolen bases.
With the loss, Chester's 2022 season ended and the three seniors -- Fortner, Colvis and Childs -- played their final game in a Lady Jacket uniform.