The two team huddles were in stark contrast to each other following the decisive third game between the Pacelli softball team and Pace Academy in the first round of the Class A private playoffs on Thursday in Columbus.
On one side, there were the victorious Lady Knights doing cartwheels -- literally -- celebrating a 9-2 victory over Pacelli, which was reserved and reflective.
The Lady Vikings' season had come to an end short of where players and coaches had hoped, while Pace Academy moves on to the Championship Tournament beginning Oct. 25 at the South Commons softball complex.
Pacelli coach Lonny Arrington was unwilling to hang his head, however, and he told his girls to do the same.
"That's what I told them in the huddle," he said following the loss. "They have nothing to be down about."
After splitting a doubleheader on Wednesday to force Thursday's rubber match, Pacelli came out strong, taking an early 2-0 lead over the visiting Lady Knights.
The Pace Academy bats came alive in the fourth inning, however, and Pacelli was unable to match the offensive outburst.
Trailing 2-1, the Lady Knights scored two in the fourth behind a one-out double by Sarah Warner. With two runners on, Warner lined a pitch into the gap, bringing around Nora Harlin, who had reached on a fielder's choice, and Maryellen Malone, who reached on an error.
It appeared Pacelli would strike back in the next half-inning, putting runners at second and third with back-to-back two-out singles by Megan Tally and Savannah Claridy. Pace Academy elected to try and walk the following batter, Lauren Rudesheim, but Rudesheim had other ideas.
After two pitches that were intentionally thrown wide of the strike zone, Pace Academy pitcher Lane Dikeman tossed one within Rudesheim's zone. Rudesheim sent the pitch deep over the left-field fence, but foul. Two pitches later, Rudesheim found another pitch to handle, but sent it on the ground to shortstop for the third out in the inning.
The Lady Knights then proceeded to score four in the fifth and two in the sixth to extend their lead to an insurmountable 9-2 margin.
"Those girls just outhit us," Arrington said of the Pace Academy hitters. "They played well, and sometimes that happens."
Arrington added that, perhaps, his players began to feel the wear of the three-game series over the course of two days.
"They might have gotten a little tired," he said. "You know, a lot of these girls still aren't used to playing that much in such a short span. It's difficult."
Pacelli got its two runs early when Megan Tally led off the first inning with a walk, moved to second on a groundout and scored on a double to deep right-center by Rudesheim. Rudesheim also came around to score when Taylor Cooper reached first on an error.
Rudesheim was 1 for 3 with a double and an RBI in the game. Tally and Claridy had the only other hits for the Lady Vikings.
Despite the loss, Arrington considered the season a success for Pacelli, which picked up its first region championship in a number of years.
The coach said that, with this season's success, hopefully the team can continue to build on it in the future.
"We want to get better," he said. "To do that, you have to play, play, play. It can't just be a three-month season. Really, it needs to be a year-round commitment."
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571
Thursday at Pacelli
Pacelli 200 000 0 --2 3 3
Pace 100 242 x --9 9 2
WP-- Lane Dikeman. LP-- Lauren Rudesheim. Hitting leaders-- Pacelli, Rudesheim 1-3, 2B, RBI, Megan Tally 1-3, Savannah Claridy 1-3; Pace Academy, Lauren Hadley 1-2, 3B, R, Lindsey Zwecker 3-4, 2 RBIs, R, Maryellen Malone 2-4, 2 RBIs, R. Records-- Pacelli 16-12; Pace Academy 17-12. Next-- Pacelli season over; Pace Academy Thursday at Elite 8 at South Commons.