RED BUD Their pitcher went toe-to-toe with one of the best of her metro-east counterparts and their hitters put up enough of a fight to keep the outcome in doubt through the final out.
While the mood in the Red Bud Musketeers’ dugout wasn’t exactly a happy one following a tight 2-1 loss to undefeated Waterloo, there still were plenty of smiles and pats on the back.
There my not be a coach in any sport who would acknowledge a moral victory, but Red Bud softball coach Dave Lucht came pretty close.
“We’ve won some games in the last week, but at the same time we’ve struggled,” said Lucht. “It’s become one of those ‘which team is going to show up’ kinds of things. To bring in a team of high caliber like Waterloo in here while they’re undefeated, and play like we did? We feel like if this is the team that shows up, we’ll win most of the time. It’s hard to be too upset with that kind of performance.”
Waterloo, meanwhile, did its part to preserve a perfect 15-0 record with the win.
Senior pitcher Kasey Bradley, who leads the area with a 9-0 record and entered the game with an ERA of 0.84, was in typical form. She struck out 11, including seven of the first 10 batters she faced.
But Red Bud countered with pitcher Mehgan Mollet, who struck out just three, but gave up just four Waterloo hits. Her effort kept the Musketeers close enough to make a late run at the Bulldogs.
“She did a tremendous job pitching today,” said Waterloo coach Matt Mason. “She’s a gamer and she knows how to pitch. She kept the ball away from our good hitters.”
Waterloo scratched out runs in the fifth and sixth innings to take the lead.
Bradley led off the fifth with a single. She advanced to third when Kylie Albrecht beat out a sacrifice bunt and the throw got away from the Red Bud first baseman. Another error on Taylor Augustine’s sacrifice brought home Katy Polacek, who was running for Bradley.
The Bulldogs scored again in the sixth when Ashley Reeder led off with a walk, advanced to second a sacrifice bunt from Hannah King and scored on an RBI single by Bradley.
“We’ve been struggling with the bats a little lately,” Mason said. “But we were able to manufacture some runs today. We were able to take advantage and score on an error and we moved some runners over by sacrificing and stealing bases. We were able to use some speed today to score runs.”
Red Bud battled back in the bottom of the seventh. Jordan Knight led off with a hard grounder down the line, which Waterloo third baseman Kaitlyn Storm was able to backhand. A wide throw beat the Knight to first base, but the umpire ruled that it pulled Reeder, the first baseman, off the base.
But Augustine, playing shortstop, fielded a sharply hit grounder by Madison Schmitz deep behind second base, stepped on the bag and completed the double-play with the throw to first.
The next batter Jessica Otten doubled high off the left-field fence. She scored on a line drive to right by Olivia Bievenue.
“Those kinds of double plays don’t happen very often in softball,” Lucht said. “To happen at the time that it did was a huge play for them. They’re shortstop did a great job pulling that off.”
Taylor Fithian had the only other hit for Red Bud, a third inning single up the middle.