INA — Nashville sophomore pitcher Maci Ingram flirted with perfection, but she ended up with a no-hitter.
Ingram struck out 16 in leading the defending state champion Hornettes to a 3-0 win over the Teutopolis Wooden Shoes on Monday in the Class 2A Ina Super-Sectional at Rend Lake College.
"That is pretty good," Ingram said of throwing the no-hitter. "I'm more excited about going to state with my team for a second year, and letting Shaye (Harre) and Nicole (Deering) experience it again during their senior year."
Ingram faced 22 batters -- one of the mininum of 21 for the seven-inning game.
The lone base runner came on a walk to Chelsea Hardick leading off the sixth inning.
"It was just an unbelievable pitching performance," Nashville coach Dempsey Witte said. "What can you say about a no-hitter in a super-sectional game? It was just a great performance by her."
Hardick ran up a 3-2 count before drawing the walk on a borderline pitch.
"He did a pretty good job back there," Witte said of the umpire. "It is what it is."
Ingram said she had no idea she had thrown a no-hitter, let alone come so close to a perfect game, until after the game.
"Not until my dad reminded me," Ingram said.
The Hornettes (36-4) will play No. 1-ranked and undefeated Kankakee Bishop McNamara (33-0) at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the EastSide Centre in East Peoria in the semifinal round of the Class 2A state tournament.
Bishop McNamara beat Stanford Olympia 10-1 Monday in the Seneca Super-Sectional.
The Wooden Shoes end their sason at 20-6.
Teutopolis coach Rich Niebrugge said Ingram was the best pitcher his squad has faced all season.
"Absolutely," Niebrugge said. "It was the movement, I think. She has a real good rise ball, and that rise ball was getting some late pop on it. Then she moves the ball around and has good command and mixes in an occasional offspeed pitch.
"We have good hitters and I really thought our girls were going to come around and start picking her up late in the game. It just never happened."
Nashville catcher Briah Winchester said Ingram's pitches had so much movement that it made for a tough day behind the plate.
"Everything was working," Winchester said. "The ball was just jumping. I don't how I was able catch it half the time, but she's great."
The Wooden Shoes will return four freshman starters, including the sister battery of Kadi and Anni Borries.
"What makes some these younger girls the players that they are is they bust their butts during the offseason," Niebrugge said. "One of the things we talked about after the game was if we want to get this point next year where we're celebrating, a lot it is going to come down how hard we work in the offseason. That's what makes these programs. These girls don't win state by picking the ball up in the beginning of March and putting it down in the end of May."
The Hornettes collected six hits off Kadi Borries. They got on the scoreboard in the second inning when Hannah Yung led off by lining a 2-0 pitch over the left field fence for her fifth homer of the season.
"I thought it might die by the fence," Yung said of the laser beam that shot off her bat. "I didn't swing that hard."
The Hornettes added two more runs in he fifth inning.
Jordi Harre reached on an error when the third baseman bobbled her grounder and then went to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Kiley Pelker.
With two outs and first base open, the Wooden Shoes walked Shaye Harre, who is hitting .622 on the season, for the third time in the game.
That walk was Shaye Harre's 50th of the season, tying the state record set by Crystal Lake Central's Stacey Hermanson in 1992.
That brought up Winchester, who had popped out to second and flied out to center field in her two previous at-bats.
"I have to stay relaxed," Winchester said. "I just want to protect Shaye. I just want to put the ball in play so they stop walking her. She's a great hitter and she needs her at-bats."
Winchester singled, bringing in Jordi Harre.
Shaye Harre didn't hesitiate, scoring from first on the play when the relay throw from the second baseman was off the mark.
"Shaye is walking like crazy," Witte said. "Shaye scored all the way from third base on that hit. It was a great at-bat by Winchester. I can't say enough about that."
Contact reporter Steve Korte at email@example.com or 239-2522.