There it was. A regional championship, six outs away and ripe for the picking.
It never got any closer for the Douglas softball team, though, Saturday afternoon in the regional finals against Reed at Bishop Manogue.
The Lady Tigers saw a 2-0 lead evaporate in a seven-run sixth inning that ranged from devastating to surreal as Reed kept its season alive with a 9-5 win.
The Raiders then grabbed another 9-5 win in Game 2 to claim the Northern Division Regional Championship, abruptly ending Douglas’ season after a dream run through the playoffs.
Douglas’ Kali Sargent was locked in a pitcher’s duel throughout the first game against Reed’s Jackie Sertic, until the disastrous sixth.
The Tigers had gained the upper hand in the fourth when Allison Meyer led off with a single and stole second. Leonna Mortimer later singled with one out, moving Meyer to third, and stole second to remove the chance of a double play grounder.
Kelly Sonnemann followed with a line drive up the middle, bringing both runners in for the 2-0 lead.
Sargent was stellar throughout, just as she had been all tournament, striking out five, walking one and allowing just four base runners heading into the sixth.
It started harmlessly enough, with a ground ball that appeared as though it would be a close out at first. A double-clutch on the throw from the Tiger infield, though, allowed Reed’s Cassy Walsh to reach safely.
Mariah Levesque then hit a line drive off diving third baseman Allison Meyer’s glove for a single, moving Walsh to second.
Mary Dettling followed with a 3-run home run, which would prove to be the game-winning hit.
Mackenzie Goins then singled into left, but the ball rolled all the way to the fence, where Tiger left fielder Julie Gomez slipped while trying to handle it and got her foot stuck in the fence. Goins sped around the bases and scored on the play.
Play was temporarily halted while Gomez was untangled from the fence, and while Tiger center fielder Maddie Parks attempted to stop a bloody nose.
Lindsey Yearman then hit a single and scored on a Britni Greninger triple and Sertic laid down a sacrifice bunt to score Greninger, making it 6-2 Reed.
A pair of errors allowed Reed to bring in a final run in the frame.
Reed put two more runs across in the top of the seventh, made possible by a pair of errors on Douglas’ part with two outs.
The Tigers got things going again in the bottom half, as Kaitlyn Bowman and Sargent both singled.
A passed ball moved the runners to second and third and Makayla Shaver reached on an error, allowing Shaena Robinson — running for Bowman — and Sargent to score.
With the score set at 9-4 in favor of Reed and one out in the inning, Katie Kluever doubled, moving Shaver to third and Allison Meyer grounded out to second, allowing Shaver to score.
Reed shut the door from there, though, forcing the second game.
The second game started out close, much like the first, with Reed going up 1-0 early on a home run.
Douglas answered in the top of the second, getting a two-run double from Shaver after Kelly Sonnemann tripled and Bowman reached on a fielder’s choice.
Reed steadily built its lead from there, though, tying the game up in the second, going up 3-2 in the third, adding two in the fourth, two in the fifth and two in the sixth.
Douglas again rallied in the seventh, with Sonnemann drawing a lead off walk and moving to second on a passed ball. Bowman singled, scoring Sonnemann, and Shaver hit a two-run home run to make it 9-5. The rally died there though and Reed pulled away with the title.