The ace of a deep Mascoutah pitching staff, Indians senior Megan Rudolphi continued to perform like one on a chilly spring afternoon Tuesday at Belleville East High School.
Rudolphi scattered seven hits in a complete game effort and Mascoutah took advantage of several Belleville East miscues to go on for a 6-2 nonconference win.
The victory improves the Indians to 4-0 and is their second victory in five days over a Southwestern Conference foe. But after edging Collinsville 6-4 in its season opener, Mascoutah benefited from seven wild pitches and a passed ball to score its first four runs against Belleville East.
Kennedy Bryant and Sarah Peters had run scoring singles to complete a three-run sixth inning, and when Rudolphi pitched out of trouble in bottom of the sixth then retired East in the seventh, the Indians had yet another win over a top SWC program.
“It’s a big win for us. We beat Collinsville the other day and now to come here and beat East is a real confidence boost for these girls,’’ Indians coach Frank Evans said. “We got a couple of big hits, and I thought our defense was excellent today. The play Kennedy (Bryant) made at shortstop on the deflected ground ball the one inning was a big time play.
“Sure we scored a couple of our runs on wild pitches and passed balls, but even that takes something. I thought our base running was better today.’’
While Rudolphi used her experience to hold the Lancers in check, East freshman Kristina Bettis struggled to find the strike zone from the outset. In her 5 1/3 innings, Bettis walked five but was behind in the count more often than not against a patient Mascoutah attack.
The loss drops East to 1-4 in the early going. And while coach Natalie Peters is trying to be patient with her young team after graduating nine seniors a year ago, she’s not about to use the Lancers’ youth as an excuse. And Peters won’t let her players use it as one either
“Yes, we’re a very young softball team. But I’m not to use being young as an excuse for some of the things we’re doing on the field. Many of the girls have played softball for a long time,’’ Peters said. “Being young isn’t an excuse for not blocking a ball or its not an excuse for making a poor throw. The simple fact is that we just need to play better.’’
After Mascoutah took a 1-0 lead on the first of three wild pitches by Bettis that scored runs, East tied the game in the bottom of the first on a double by Brooke Laidley and a triple by Jessica Belzer.
East tied the game again in in the bottom of the fourth on a run-scoring double by Lauren Westerfeld. But Rudolphi settled down from then on out as she held East scoreless over the final three innings.
“We’ve got seven pitchers and they can do the job,’’ Evans said. “But Megan has experience on the mound and she leads by example. They (East) hit some balls hard at times, but credit our defense. We made the plays and on offense we were able to get a couple of big hits late in the game to increase the lead.’’