Pitching in perhaps the biggest game of her young career, Mater Dei sophomore Aften Richter matched Waterloo ace Kasey Bradley pitch for pitch for the first five innings on Wednesday in the semifinals of the Class 3A Mascoutah Softball Sectional.
But then the Knights blinked.
A potential game-saving play by Mater Dei shortstop Shannon Schuetz turned into a throwing error which allowed the tie-breaking run to score in the sixth inning as Waterloo went on for a 7-1 win at Mascoutah High school.
Tied at 1 following a solo home run by Waterloo sophomore Erica Schaab in the fourth inning, Richter issued a one out-walk to Schaab and when Kaitlyn Storm followed with a single, the Bulldogs had runners on first and second base.
Bradley then hit a hard line drive which Schuetz made a diving stop on, but when she attempted to get Schaab at third base, her throw sailed to the leftfield side of third base which allowed Schaab to scamper home with the eventual game winning run.
The play opened the floodgates for Waterloo which which scored five more runs in the sixth inning. Sophomore Ashley Reeder added a two-run single and when senior Kylie Albrecht hit a two-rrun home run seconds laster, Waterloo was in firm command with a 7-1 lead.
Bradley, who retired 13 straight hitters at one point, allowed a leadoff double to Sydney Englehart and Allison Beckmann reached on an error to start the Mate Dei seventh inning. But like she did all afternoon, Bradley made big pitches in big siuations as she retired the next three hitters to end the game and the Knights season.
“Kasey pitched a great game for us. But she’s done that for us all year,’’ Waterloo coach Matt Mason said. “Offensively, Erica (Schaab) hit the big home run for us and it kind of reminded me of the walkoff home run against Columbia the other night in the regional final.
“She (Richter) pitched a good game against us tonight. But I think, finally, in the third time around the order we started swinging more at pitches we could hit,. We at much better at bats in the sixth inning.’’
The win moves Waterloo into the sectional final on Saturday where it will take on Mississippi Valley Conference rival Highland at 11 a.m. at Mascoutah High School. Highland (23-9) advanced with a 2-0 win over Carbondale on Tuesday.
The loss ends the Knights roller-coaster season at 14-12. But for coach Ron Schadegg and his Knights the season ended on a positive note. Playing as well as it had for several weeks, Mater Dei won a regional title and if her performance on Wednesday is any indcation, Mater Dei also found its big game pitcher for the next two years in Richter.
“Aften did a great job. Before the game all we wanted was for her to pitch well enough to give us a shot. She did much more then that today,’’ Schadegg said. “We hit the softball hard off Bradley a few timnes, but she’a a very good pitcher. Today she threw strikes and her defense made the plays behind her.’’
Still, it was the Knights which struck first in the top of the first when Kelsey Gerdes singled with two outs and scored when cleanup hitter Emmerynn Wheelen doubled her in.
Richter, who retired 10 of the first 12 hitters she faced, then made her first mistake of the night when she threw a 3-1 pitch that Schaab hit over the centerfield fence to tie the game at 1.
“I didn’t think I hit it well enough to go out,,’’ Schaab said. “ I’m glad it did.’’
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2661.
Game at a Glance
PITCHING: Waterloo ace Kasey Bradley allowed a first inning run but little else as she allowed only four hits in a complete game effort. Bradley retired 13 straight hitters at one point and finished with eight strike outs and a did not walk a hitter. Richter held Waterloo to just one run and four hits through five innings before the Bulldogs put theg ame away with a six run sixth inning
KNIGHTS FIRST: Kelsey Gerdes singled with two outs and scored on a double by Emmerynn Wheelan. Mater Dei 1, Waterloo 0:
BULLDOGS FOURTH: Erica Schaab hits a one-out solo home run. Mater Dei 1, Waterloo 1:
BULLDOGS SIXTH: Schaab walks with one out; Kaitlyn Storm singles; Bradley grounds ball to deep short where Mater Dei shortstop Shannon Schuetz fields the ball but throws wildy to third base allowing Schaab to score;. Miranda Brown singles to drive in a run; Ashley Reeder adds a two-run single and Kylie Albrecht hits as two-run home run. Waterloo 7, Mater Dei 1.