EAST PEORIA — Nashville freshman pitcher Maci Ingram was a little apprehensive after looking at St. Joseph-Ogden's gaudy batting statistics.
"That was the one thing that made it more nerve-racking," Ingram said. "That they had no losses and their batting averages. I was thinking, 'This is a really good team and I'm really going to have to work my spots.'''
Despite having 10 players hitting over .400, 38 home runs and a couple of hitters with more than 70 RBIs, the Spartans managed only five hits off Ingram as they fell to the Hornettes 5-2 in the semifinals of the Class 2A State Softball Tournament.
Ingram ended up with 14 strikeouts.
"Not even close, and we faced some pretty good pitchers this year,'' Spartans coach Randy Wolken said when asked if his team had whiffed that many times in any previous game this season. "I'm not sure we've struck out 10 times in a game this year. I don't know if we've struck out seven or eight times. It's amazing how well that pitcher did against us.
"I feel like we have a good hitting team, and you sure couldn't tell it by watching us today. You strike out 14 times against her, and that tells me something. That's she is a lot better than we are.''
Ingram effectively worked her spots, especially the outside corner.
The home plate umpire was giving the pitcher the outside corner, and then some.
"I will have to agree with the 'and then some,''' Wolken said. "I told them, get up on the plate and take that away from them. If he is going to call that, you have to foul it off. I give her credit. She used it. If he's going to call it, use it.
"That was tough. I think mentally it really worked on the girls. You play all year long and you don't get that far outside called on you, and then all of the sudden you get it called on you. That's tough to adjust to in one game.''
The Spartans had eight hitters strike out on called third strikes.
"I agree with them, whenever they had that look on their face that it wasn't a strike,'' Ingram said. "It wasn't a strike. I'm going to be 100 percent honest, but he was calling it.''
And, Ingram was smart enough to keep throwing it there.
Nashville coach Dempsey Witte said his coaching staff realized that they needed to work the outside part of the plate after Shaye Harre was called out on strikes in the second inning.
"Shaye got called out, and that might be the first or second time in her career that she got called out looking,'' Witte said. "We said, 'That's fine. If they are going to give us that, then we'll stay out there.' It was a consistent zone, so we just stayed there.''
Leah Levins and Kaitlin Constant both hit two-run homers to lead Williamsville past Sherrard 8-5 and into the title game against Nashville.
It was Levins' sixth home run of the season and Constant's fifth homer of the season.
Williamsville's leading hitter is senior left fielder Torey Sorensen, who entered the tournament batting .528 with 14 homers and 64 RBIs.
Williamsville junior pitcher Haley Long allowed 13 hits and five earned runs against Sherrard. Long is 30-2 with an ERA of about 1.00 for the season.
One of Williamsville's three losses was a 4-2 decision against Carterville in the Pinckneyville Showcase. Nashville beat Carterville twice, 2-1 and 3-0, in Southern Illinois River-to-River Conference play.
Ingram's teammates helped her with some good glovework in the field.
Harre made a diving catch to her right on Stephanie Canfield's liner in the first inning, while third baseman Lauren O'Daniel snagged a shot down the line by Canfield in the fourth inning.
Second time is better
Nashville sophomore Hannah Yung's three-run home run in the first inning was her second homer of the season. Her other homer came against Salem in a lopsided 11-0 win early in the season.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.