STANFORD -- The Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley softball team's season came to an end on Tuesday with a 5-4 loss to Tolono Unity in the semifinals of the IHSA Class 2A Stanford Olympia Sectional.
On the mound, Madi Eberle struck out 14 batters and walked none while allowing five runs -- two earned -- on seven hits. GCMS lost despite out-hitting Unity 11-7 as Maci Bielfeldt hit 3-for-4 with a double while Emily Clinton and Lindsey Heinz each hit 2-for-4 and Ashley Hyatt (1-for-3) had two RBIs.
"We out-hit them and only had two strikeouts, so I’m happy that we finally found a way to put the ball in play," GCMS head coach Kara Smith said.
The Falcons led 4-2 after three innings.
They scored two runs in the second inning as Maci Bielfeldt hit a leadoff double to left field and Dani Eckerty singled to right field before Hyatt lined a one-out base hit to center field to send Bielfeldt and Eckerty across home plate. The two-RBI hit tied the game at 2-2.
In the third inning, GCMS took its two-run lead as Eberle and Lindsey Heinz each singled before Eberle crossed home plate on a Lauren Leonard groundout and Maci Bielfeldt singled to center field to send Heinz home.
Unity rallied back with three combined runs in the fifth and sixth innings, including a solo home run by Taylor Henry in the fifth inning.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Kyleigh Dubson reached base on one of five Falcons errors before Gracie Renfrow singled with two outs and Maddie Reed hit a two-RBI singled to center field.
"I think we beat ourselves," Smith said. "We were not fundamentally sound like how we have been. We also had some miscues on the bases that kinda hurt us. Take away the simple fundamental mishaps, and we would’ve came out on top."
The Falcons ended the season with a record of 17-8 with the loss.
"I'm very proud of the girls for what all they have accomplished this year," Smith said. "It’s nice to have a current regional plaque back in our trophy case. We have to keep building on this year, have a positive snowball effect and keep this program going up.
Three seniors will say goodbye due to graduation.
"These girls have set the bar high," Smith said. "We know that they have what it takes to get a regional. Now we have to build and keep going forward."
Tolono Unity 5, GCMS 4
GCMS 022 000 0 -- 4 11 5
UNITY 110 012 x -- 5 7 0
W -- Taylor Henry, 7 IP, 11 H, 4 ER, 2 K, BB. L -- Madi Eberle, 6 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 14 K, 0 BB.
GCMS (17-8) -- Emily Clinton 2-4. Madi Eberle 1-3, R. Lindsey Heinz 2-4, R. Lauren Leonard RBI. Maci Bielfeldt 3-4, 2B, RBI, R. Dani Eckerty 1-3. Ashley Hyatt 1-3, 2 RBIs. Hannah Hathaway 1-3.
Unity -- Elyce Knudsen 1-4, RBI. Taylor Henry 2-3, 2B, HR, 2 RBIs, R. Morgan Steinman 1-2. Gracie Renfrow 2-3, 2B, 2 R. Maddie Reed 1-3, 2 RBIs. Allison England R.