Byron Lady Tigers win playoff opener
By Chris Johnson
Fighting until the end, the Byron Lady Tigers found a way to turn a slow close to the spring sports season into a bright start to the 2019 Class 2A post-season. A 6-5 win over Big Northern neighbor Oregon on Monday, May 13, gave Byron the chance to keep the second season alive, as they prepared to face one of the top seeds in the 2A Girls’ Basketball Orion Sectional Complex, Sterling Newman, and they got to do it in Comets’ Country.
Byron wanted to win the Monday Regional Semi-Final qualifying match a little more than Oregon did, the numbers seem to support. It was a big game for the Lady Tigers for a couple reasons. One, it was a playoff winner and two; there were bragging rights on the table. Someone was going to see their season come to an end at the hands of one of their closest rivals.
The season series was split between Byron and Oregon this year. Each team pulled one out, with the Lady Hawks producing slightly more offense in the previous Big Northern meetings. Byron fell the first time the two teams met. On April 1, the Lady Hawks set in motion a challenging season for Byron, one which ended with the team carding a 6-22 record. They went to eight innings to get it done, but came away with the early bragging rights with the 11-7 decision to open April play.
Byron had to wait for weeks before it got its chance at redemption with Oregon. On April 25 the two teams met up again and this time the Lady Tigers came away with victory. Discipline and patience paid off as Byron fell behind early, 1-0 after one, but found a way to tie it up in the second, 1-1. The tie remained in effect until the fifth inning when the Lady Tigers scored twice to pull away, 3-1.
Oregon responded in the home half of the fifth to make it a one-run game again, 3-2, but could do nothing else against Byron pitching.
The Lady Tigers evened the season series with Oregon and put their focus on the final stretch of games before the State 2A Playoffs began. On Monday, May 13 it started with the Lady Tigers getting the chance to claim bragging rights and pick-up the season series with a 2-1 mark.
Oregon batted first and wasted little time getting the offense online. Player movement on the base paths helped send across the game’s first score and the eight-seed Lady Hawks grabbed the early one-run advantage. Byron was issued the seven-seed and hosted the play-in game and knocked across the tying run in the home half of the first.
The match stayed locked into the third when Oregon struck again. The one run addition added some breathing room for the underdog, upset-minded Lady Hawks and they carried the edge into the home half of the fourth, up 2-1. Byron got back on the board with a run of its own and the match set up again all square, 2-2.
Neither team found consistent offense in the fifth, but in the sixth, things changed. Oregon jumped on Byron offerings and powered across two runs to capture a two-run edge, 4-2. The Lady Tigers had waited for their chance and found it a half inning later.
Byron put up four scores in its final at bat and sent the game to the closing staff, up 6-4. Oregon liked the early changeover and manufactured a run as they batted in the visitor’s seventh. With the lead cut to 6-5, Byron got the final out and punched its ticket for game two in the 2019 second season.
The win moved Byron into the path of two-seed Sterling Newman. The Lady Comets were 8-3 in Three Rivers Conference play this season, which was good enough for a fourth-place finish behind eventual champion Taylor Ridge-Rockridge.
In the post-season, the host Lady Comets proved to be too much too handle, even with another strong effort by the hard-charging Lady Tigers. They claimed the 5-4 decision, ending Byron’s season. Sterling Newman advanced to capture the Newman Class 2A Regional Championship and opened game play in western Illinois this week in the Orion 2A Sectional.
The Lady Comets faced the survivor from the Rock Island Alleman 2A Regional. However, which team came out on top between top-seed Prophetstown and five-seed Princeton in Rock Island wasn’t known at the time the Tempo went to press. Weather conditions delayed completion of that match until Monday, May 20.

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