O'FALLON — O'Fallon No. 9 hitter Molly Dumstorff looked overmatched in her first trip to the plate against Edwardsville pitcher Amber Toenyes.
But, the second time she faced Toenyes was another matter.
Dumstorff singled home Sami Stadts with the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fourth inning as the Panthers edged the Tigers 2-1 Thursday in a Southwestern Conference softball game.
"She struck out her first at-bat, and I basically told her, 'I need you to get into it. You have to load earlier, and get into that pitch,''' O'Fallon coach Kate Walsh said of Dumstorff. "She did everything that I asked for, and I couldn't be more proud of her.''
Dumstorff said she focused on relaxing when she stepped up to the plate the second time.
"I think I was kind of intimidated just because it's a big game, but after that at-bat, I just cleared my head and I knew I had to get the ball in play,'' Dumstorff said.
O'Fallon pitcher Taylor Bowlby made sure the slim lead held up.
"Taylor has been pitching for me for four years, so I expect that she is going to do well for us,'' Walsh said. "She threw her game. She looked great in the circle.''
Bowlby gave up only four hits, while striking out four and walking one.
"I just have to throw strikes, and with my defense behind me, I feel they can hit it pretty much wherever and my defense is going to get it,'' Bowby said.
Toenyes produced the Tigers' lone run with solo homer in the top of the fourth inning.
"I left one hanging,'' Bowby said. "I played with Amber for years, and she's just a really good hitter.''
The Panthers improved to 8-2 overall, 2-0 in the SWC. The Tigers dropped to 5-1 overall, 1-1 in the SWC.
"Today was exactly what I was concerned with coming into the year,'' Edwardsville coach Lori Blade said. "We know Amber is going to hit. Who else is going to hit in the big game against good pitching? I was disappointed at our at-bats. I thought we were satisfied with contact, and we can't. We're better than that.''
The Panthers grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
Taylor Underwood was hit by a pitch with two outs. Bowlby followed with a single to center field and Becca Proper hit a blooper behind the pitcher's mound that fell in as second baseman Olivia Nicholls collided with shortstop Ari Arnold as she tried to dive for the ball.
"We've had trouble with that, but it has to be caught,'' Blade said of the play that produced the Panthers' first run. "We made a good effort, but we didn't make a great effort. You've got to dive, you've got to do whatever you need to do on the infield to make that play.''
The Tigers tied the score when Toenyes blasted a 2-2 pitcher over the right-field fence.
In the bottom of the fourth, Stadts walked, moved to second on a passed ball and advanced to third on a groundout to first base by Allison Underwood.
That brought up Dumstorff, who lined a pitch on the outside part of the plate to right field for a single.
"How we scored, neither one of them, was pretty, but they found a way to win,'' Walsh said. "That's what I appreciate. This team has a lot of heart, and I'm really excited about what the season has to offer.''
Contact reporter Steve Korte at email@example.com or 239-2522.