Waterloo led Columbia for only one at-bat in Monday’s Class 3A Waterloo Softball Regional championship game, but fortunately for the Bulldogs, that was all they needed for a 9-8 victory.
Senior Kaitlyn Storm saw one pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning and she sent it over the left field fence for the walk-off victory.
Storm said she was not trying to end the game with one swing.
“I just wanted to get a base hit so we could keep it going and we had a better chance if the first runner got on,“ Storm said.
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Storm had not played a full season with the team, but Waterloo coach Matt Mason said he was glad she could be healthy come tournament time.
“One of the best things that’s happened to us over the course of the year is her getting hot,” Mason said. “She started swinging a hot bat like we knew she could. She’s basically a three-year varsity player. She’s been all-conference; she’s been a good player.”
The hit capped an epic comeback by the Bulldogs (34-1), who found themselves down 6-0 after two innings. Columbia senior Caitlyn Touchette gave her team the lead in the top of the first inning with a three-run homer.
An inning later, a pair of errors gave the Eagles another three-run inning and put them in a dominant position against the top-seeded Bulldogs.
Mason said he and his players were taken aback by the early deficit but did not try to be too aggressive in their efforts to mount a comeback.
“The biggest thing overall was that we just decided to settle down and play,” Mason said. “We did a lot of things in those first three innings that were not indicative of what got us to where we’re at at this point. I was stunned, the girls were stunned.
“I said, ‘You know what? It’s time to go out and play.’”
Following the top of the third inning, the Bulldogs got on the board thanks to senior Emelia Modglin. Modglin, whose .500-plus batting average is one of the best in the area, blasted a three-run homer to center field and gave Columbia some hope.
Two innings later, with the game now 8-3 in Columbia’s favor, Modglin helped start a five-run inning for the Bulldogs. With two runners on, Modglin doubled deep into the outfield and was rewarded with two RBIs, making the game 8-5. She later scored to make it 8-6 and watched as her team tie the game later that inning off sophomore Hannah King’s single.
Mason said Modglin’s contributions in the game were nothing new this season.
“Modglin’s been big all year,” Mason said. “With the three-run home run to start us off it was kind of a statement to all of our kids like, ‘Hey, let’s go ahead and play this game out. Let’s not lay down here. It’s time for us to do a little playing too.’”
On the mound both teams struggled to find success. For Columbia, junior Brina Rujawitz started the game and went 5 and a third innings and was pulled with the game tied 8-7. The eventual tying run also went to her. The loss fell on freshman Whitney Edwards, whose lone earned run was Storm’s homer.
For the Bulldogs, senior ace Kasey Bradley went the full seven. While Columbia scored eight runs during her time on the mound, Bradley was hurt by some crucial errors that allowed the Eagles to score many of the runs against her.
During a critical sixth inning, Mason went out to the mound to talk with his pitcher. Instead of trying to give her a serious speech, he went a different route to calm Bradley.
“I asked her if she wanted to come out,” Mason joked. “ (He said,) ‘You done pitching today? I’ll just go ahead and take you out.’ That was the biggest joke of what it was. I went out there and said, ‘Look, I’m not taking you out. I’m just here to see how you’re doing and see what you want to do with these batters.’ I said, ‘Why don’t you go and not walk them and just get after them.’”
Columbia Head Coach Rhonda Major said she was pleased with how her offense played.
“I’m really proud of my girls the way we hit the ball today,” Major said. “We wanted to come out and get on top. My girls did a really good job of that.”
With the victory, Waterloo moves onto the Mascoutah Sectional, where they will play on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. against Mater Dei.
Game at a Glance
Kaitlyn Storm’s walk-off home run put the finishing touches on Waterloo’s 9-8 comeback victory against Columbia at Monday’s Class 3A Waterloo regional final.
The Bulldogs (34-1) play on Wednesday at 4:30 at the Mascoutah sectional against the winner of the Mater Dei regional. The Eagles (25-4) season ends with the loss.
PITCHING: Waterloo starter Kasey Bradley gave up nine hits and allowed eight runs, but fell victim to some poor defense. Columbia starter Brina Rujawitz gave up eight runs before being pulled in the fifth inning for freshman pitcher Whitney Edwards. The lone run Edwards allowed was the walkoff homer to Storm.
EAGLES FIRST: Columbia jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first inning off a three-run home run by Caitlyn Touchette. Kaylee Bastien, who singled to start the game, and Chelsy Pena, who was hit by a pitch, scored. COLUMBIA 3, WATERLOO 0
EAGLES SECOND: Claire Foster started the inning with a double and scored on a single of Bastien. A pair of errors and another hit by pitch for Pena later. COLUMBIA 6, WATERLOO 0
BULLDOGS THRID: Madi Kruse walked to start the inning and moved to second after Kylie Albrecht singled. One of the area’s top hitters, Emelia Modglin sent a three-run homer over the center field wall. COLUMBIA 6, WATERLOO 3
EAGLES FOURTH: With one out, Bastien hit her third single of the game and moved to third on a double by Calli Wibbenmeyer. Both scored on the next play, as Pena reached safely on an errant throw by Storm. COLUMBIA 8, WATERLOO 3
BULLDOGS FIFTH: Kruse and Taylor Augustine get on base for Modglin, who hits a two-RBI double to make the score 8-5. Modglin scores on an error by Touchette to make it 8-6 and Erica Schaab heads to second base. Storm hits an RBI double and comes around to score two batters later on a Hannah King single. COLUMBIA 8, WATERLOO 8
BULLDOGS SEVENTH: Storm sees one pitch and sends it over the left field fence for a walk-off homer and the regional championship. WATERLOO 9, COLUMBIA 8