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NEW HEADING 1
Cogs cruise to regional championship
May 20, 2012Genoa-Kingston High School
GENOA – The 2012 Genoa-Kingston softball team isn’t similar to last year’s team that finished the season with just two losses and graduated most of its starting lineup.
Last year’s team was businesslike, while this team is more lighthearted.
That team simply knew how to win games. This year’s team had to learn that trait.
But the 2012 Cogs did something last year’s team couldn’t, winning the Class 2A Genoa-Kingston Regional on Saturday by beating St. Edward 10-1 on Saturday.
“This feels great. Words can’t even describe it. I’m so excited,” said sophomore catcher Paige Keegan, one of the few holdovers from last year’s team. “At the beginning, it was a little rougher. But when we saw our regional, we had more confidence. Today was our game. Last year was just not our game.”
The Cogs (19-12) jumped out to a lead early in Saturday’s game, when pitcher Danielle Engel scored on an illegal pitch. In the second inning, Natalie Klein drove in two runs to jumpstart a four-run inning, and the Cogs were off to an early 5-0 lead.
For an inexperienced team, that early lead was important.
“[The early runs] took out some of the nerves from the start,” coach Mike Lauer said. “No matter what the situation, in the regional championship it’s always pretty tense at the beginning. When you’ve got five, six runs on them, you can relax a little bit.”
Engel was dominant both on the mound and at the plate. The junior allowed just one run on two hits in five innings before freshman Baylie Ullmark came on in relief. Engel also hit an inside-the-park home run, her third in the past two games.
The first-seeded Cogs had six different players drive in runs to win their first regional title since 2008. They will face North Boone on Wednesday at home in the G-K Sectional semifinal.
“I think [the history] makes it a lot more special,” Engel said. “They haven’t won it since 2008, so I think this year to come out with a big win, 10-1, it means a lot. We worked really hard to get here. We’ve come really far as a team. We’ve had our ups and downs, but now we have a really good team, and I think we showed that.”
Lauer knew this season would be different than last. He’s finding out that’s not always such a bad thing.
“They’ve had a lot of growing pains, but we’ve improved on them and it’s fun to see that,” Lauer said. “It’s been a nice journey, and hopefully it keeps going. We’re not satisfied yet. We want to keep this thing going. But they’ve really come a long way.”