In a matchup of experience versus potential, experience won.
Waterloo senior pitcher Kasey Bradley shutout a young Belleville East lineup on just four scattered hits to help her Bulldogs earn a 7-0 non-conference victory Monday.
"They have an experienced pitcher and our batters were not aggressive against her," said East coach Natalie Peters, who has just three seniors on her roster. "To hit good pitching you have to be aggressive and we were too tentative from the beginning."
Bradley now has two of the Bulldogs' three wins on the young season. She struck out five and walked three Monday. She also pitched her way out of two-on, one-out situations in the fourth and fifth innings before retiring the last eight batters she faced.
"Kasey has been nursing a little injury, but she's now had two really solid outings," said Waterloo coach Matt Mason. "We think she'll have a really special senior year and that we'll go as far as she takes us. She really bore down today.'
Senior Kylie Albrecht lifted the Waterloo offense with two hits and four runs batted in, including a bases-loaded double to break the game open in the third.
"This was a good test for us. Their team speed traditionally causes a lot of problems and that was our concern defensively today," Mason said. "We wanted to take the small game away from them as much as we could."
The Bulldogs’ early and commanding lead took the small-ball option away from East almost from the start. Waterloo batters touched three Belleville East pitchers with eight hits, five walks and a hit batter against just three strikeouts, all on close counts.
"I thought the girls swung the bats really well today," said Mason. "They didn't try to do too much with their pitchers who did a really nice job nibbling on the corners. We really had a good approach with them."
The top four batters in the Lancer lineup — Tawnee Kramer, Brooke Laidley, Jessica Belzer and Alex Boze —each had a single hit to account for the entirety of East's offense. The last five batters East’s batter order were a combined 0-for-13.
Waterloo scored the only run it needed in first inning when sophomore Taylor Augustine reached on a walk and scored when Emelia Modglin lifted a high fly ball over the head of East left fielder Becca Dahm.
Albrecht picked up her first RBI of the day with a second-inning single to score Ashley Reeder, who had reached base on a one-out double.
The Bulldogs blew the game open in the third innining by loading the bases with one out. Modglin led off with a walk, stole second, then scored on a double by Ashley Reeder. Katy Polacek walked and Madison Kruse reached on a fielder's choice to load the bases up for Albrecht.
Albrecht lifted a solid line drive into an easterly jetstream that carried the ball near the base of the fence in right center field to clear the bases.
The Lancers (1-3) threatened to score in both the fourth and fifth innings.
Belzer and Boze started the fourth with back-to-back singles. Belzer was forced out at third on a fielder's choice by Lindsey Mossman. After a ground out by Annie Eversman, Tori Londsdale walked to load the bases for juinor Courtney Butler who popped out behind first base.
In the fourth, Kramer and Laidley got things started with a pair of singles with one out. But Albrecht matched her offense with her glovework snagging a solid liner off Belzer's bat, then ranging far to her left to get Boze on an inning-ending groundout.
Bradley retired the next eight in a row.
Belleville East got decent pitching from starter Angela Vanderplyum and junior Tori Lonsdale, who entered the game in relief in the bottom of the third. Peters overall was happy with the pitching effort, but not so much with the outfield play.
"There were definitely some catchable balls in the outfield," Peter said. "We just have to work to get better."
Freshman Kristine Bettis closed the game out for East, arriving in the bottom of the fifth after playing third base for the junior varsity team. She retired the only five batters she faced.
Whether she sticks with the varsity roster full-time will depend on how the team develops going forward.
"We are super young team. We lost nine seniors who accounted for a big part of our offense, and a pitcher who basically set every school record," Peters said. "Right now, we're just putting girls in positions and seeing who can win those spots. We have a lot of different options at different positions and we just have to see how it fits best."