LACROSSE | After several tense hours, Washington Township softball coach Jack Corley finally had a chance to relax late Thursday afternoon.
The Senators defeated defending champion Kouts 5-1 in the finals of the Class A LaCrosse Sectional, giving the program its first postseason crown.
"I was nervous all day," said Corley, whose team hosts Pioneer in Tuesday's regional. "I couldn't work. Now I feel great."
In the their fourth consecutive trip to the championship, the Senators (12-9) finally broke through.
"It's taken a long time to get here," said senior third baseman Elaine Lustgarten, who was 2-for-3 with an RBI. "To make it is unbelievable and amazing."
It was a belief in one another that twin sister and starting pitcher Liz Lustgarten thought was the difference.
"We've played a lot together, and everybody is comfortable in their positions," said Liz Lustgarten, who tossed a four-hitter with six strikeouts for the win. "We trust a lot in each other."
The Senators' defense made several sparkling plays behind Liz Lustgarten — including three double plays — to snuff out the Fillies' rallies. In the top of the first, catcher Ali Cobb took a relay throw off Elena Rosenbaum's flyball and cut down Jenna Jessen's attempt to tag up and move to third.
In the third, Lustgarten fanned Megan Heinold then shortstop Macy Mullins made a diving snag of Cobb's throw to tag out Marissa Birky on a steal attempt.
In the fourth, Elaine Lustgarten snared a one-out liner from Breanne Seber, then second baseman Corie O'Connor made a diving snare of the relay throw to double off Elena Rosenbaum.
"We kept runners off the bases, and that's what wins games," coach Corley said. "I thought the girls came to play."
Kacie Corley, the coach's daughter, led the offense by going 3-for-4 with a run scored.
Kouts coach Tim McNeill thought his players couldn't overcome their nerves. The Fillies (9-18) committed four costly turnovers, which led to three unearned runs.
"Our defense has been good the last three weeks," McNeill said. "Not today.
"When we got to the plate, we let (Lustgarten) dictate things to us."