Two teams at the top of the Cahokia Conference’s Mississippi Division met Wednesday, each charting a much different trend.
Freeburg, winner of six in a row, outslugged, outpitched and out-defended the Central Cougars, who dropped their fourth straight and fifth out of last six games.
Sophomore Miranda Schulte struck out 12 Central batters and Savanna Stevens hit a three-run home run to give the Midgets the 10-1 victory.
The last time Freeburg (19-4) lost was in an April 16 doubleheader sweep to Chester. The team learned something about staying focused from the losses.
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“I think we didn’t come out to play and probably underestimated them a little bit,” Stevens said. “We’re doing pretty good now. We know how good the conference is that we have to play hard every game.”
19-4, 7-1 Freeburg
16-3, 5-1 Columbia
16-10, 4-4 Central
14-9, 4-3 Red Bud
12-12, 2-7 Carlyle
14-9, 1-7 Wesclin
For Central (16-10), something has been missing since the middle of April. The Cougars were 9-1 after defeating Freeburg on April 7, but a loss to Columbia a week later sent them into a spiral. The team has gone 4-9 since.
“I don’t know what happened from the first half of the season until now,” said Central coach Gigi Kohrmann. “There are a lot of good teams in the league, but we can compete with each one of them. You’re not going to compete against a team like we’re playing, with errors and leaving runners on. This team is definitely better than what they’re showing.”
Freeburg scored two of its first three batters of the game and kept the pressure on Central starter Olivia Wesselmann.
The Midgets scored a variety of ways, from manufacturing a run in the third with a lead-off double from Schulte followed by a pair of sacrifices, to Stevens’ three-run homer in the seventh. They also capitalized on Central errors by plating two unearned runs.
“We don’t strike out a lot and we’re pretty solid up and down the order,” said Freeburg coach Ben Howes. “When you put the ball in play, good things happen.”
In the first inning, Schulte hit a double off the top of the temporary fence in left center field to score Kimmie Hoffman, who as hit by a pitch to start the game. Schulte later scored on an infield single by Cheyenne Bivins.
The Midgets scored single runs with an RBI hit from Hoffman in the second and a sacrifice fly to plate Schulte in the third.
Outfielder Jenny Homann knocked home Hannah Harbaugh and Hoffman with a two-out single in the fourth.
Freeburg added an unearned run in the fifth to make the score 7-0 and Stevens’ three-run homer in the seventh capped the Midgets’ scoring.
“The pitch was up down the middle and kind of high,” Stevens said. “It was nice and loopy, so it was a good ball to hit.”
We're doing pretty good now. We know how good the conference is that we have to play hard every game.
Savannah Stevens, Freeburg senior first baseman
Central scratched home its in lone run in the bottom of the seventh. Mackenzie Ratermann singled with one out, advanced to third on a throwing error and scored on an RBI hit by Kaylee Schrand.
In addition to her two doubles, RBI and run scored, Schulte was in control in the pitcher’s circle.
She allowed five hits through six innings while striking out 12 and walking two.
Central stranded nine runners on base against Schulte, but just three of them got into scoring position.
Raterman had three hits for Central. Schrand and Jessica Eilers had the others.
For Freeburg, Hoffman was 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored; Homann was 1-for-4 with two RBI; Schulte was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI; Josie Ledbetter was 2-for-4 with a run scored; Bivins was 2-for-2 with two sacrifices, two RBI and a run; Stevens had the home run and three RBIs, but reached twice on errors and scored two runs; Lauren Thoma was 1-for-4; Harbaugh had a sacrifice, a walk and run scored; and Megan Busch was 1-for-2.