EAST PEORIA —
Lauren Ohnesorge and Lauren White make up the heart of the Altamont Lady Indian order, as the fourth and fifth hitters refer to themselves as "L-squared".
The nickname sure was fitting in the second inning of Friday morning's Class 1A state semifinal, as the two each squared up the ball about as well as one can, hitting back-to-back home runs to put Altamont up 2-0.
The home runs, an RBI double by Deidre Ledbetter in the third inning and 15 strikeouts from the circle by Ledbetter were more than enough to continue making Altamont history, as the Indians bested Sciota West Prairie 3-1 and advanced to Saturday's state championship game. They'll face Trico (32-3), who downed Amboy 6-1 in the day's second Class 1A semifinal.
"We're always next to each other in the lineup," White said. "When we both got big hits like that, it felt great. I was jumping up and down."
Altamont improved to 29-6 with the win.
West Prairie scored in the sixth on an RBI double by Jen Reedy to make it 3-1 and started putting the bat on the ball more against Ledbetter, but mostly were hitting foul balls on the way to strikeouts.
Ledbetter was dominant on the mound, but also deferred credit to her battery mate White for calling the game behind the plate.
It was 0-0 until Lauren Ohnesorge connected on the third pitch of the second inning for a laser home run over the right field wall. After the ball was retrieved, she passed it on to her father Rich. It was a special day for him, as he was a member of the second-place team from Beecher City baseball in 1983 -- and for another reason.
"I told Doug Winters to hand him the ball and say 'happy birthday,'" Ohnesorge said. "It was bittersweet, because I really wanted to do something to contribute to the team, because the last two games during the sectional championship and the Super-Sectional I wasn't really doing anything, I felt, and I felt like I really needed to lift my team up. I thought I got the job done."
White followed that up with a homer to the left center field gap, which coach John Niebrugge said was surprising, as the Indians have been a team built around hitting it into the gaps, with only 13 home runs coming in to Friday's semifinal.
After Ledbetter's RBI double in the third, bringing home Madison Ohnesorge after a double of her own, it was time for Ledbetter to take over on the mound.
The 15 strikeouts kept West Prairie from ever really putting pressure on the Indians, as only four Cyclones advanced to scoring position on the day. She didn't allow a single walk.
"Fifteen strikeouts in a state game is really good; give me three runs with her and I'll take my chances," Niebrugge said. "I won't say I thought we'd be in the state championship game, because we didn't. They think they're gonna win, and they have a good shot tomorrow."
After Reedy's double scored Jennifer Schwerer with two outs, Ledbetter got Megan Weaver to hit a line drive right back to her to end the sixth.
Kourtney Campbell led off the seventh with a single, before Ledbetter struck out the side in order and the celebration was on.
"Lauren called a heck of a game today, and she called it a lot better than I pitched them," Ledbetter said. "I think we just kind of put our head down and kept barreling on through. I did tell her two should be enough for us; it's not enough for an offense, but it's enough for a defense."
No Indian had more than one hit, with Madison Ohnesorge, Josie Phillips, Lauren Ohnesorge, Alex Teasley and Ledbetter all going 1-for-3. White was 1-for-2 with a walk.
Ledbetter yielded just five hits, with Campbell going 2-for-3. Reedy was 1-for-3 with an RBI double, and Hanna Runner had a double in the first inning while going 1-for-3. Tabby Bilderback was the only Cyclone to not strike out once on the day.
While the Indians had never made a state semifinal before this week, the softball team has just one goal left: winning a state championship.
"Crazy, crazy, I can't even explain it right now," Ledbetter said. "Pure emotion; excitement, joy, sadness, everything. It's great. I can't believe it's going to be our last game, but I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."
They'll get their shot this afternoon at 12:30 p.m., as long as potential rain in the area doesn't make the IHSA switch around the schedule for the state championship games, which has been presented as a possibility.
West Prairie 000 001 0 1 5 0
Altamont 021 000 X 3 6 1
WP - Ledbetter (7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 15 K, 0 BB) LP - Campbell (6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 6 K, 1 BB)
West Prairie: Bilderback (1-3); Schwerer (0-3, R, SB); Han. Runner (1-3, 2B); Reedy (1-3, 2B, RBI); Campbell (2-3)
Altamont: M. Ohnesorge (1-3. 2B, R); Phillips (1-3); Ledbetter (1-3, 2B, RBI); L. Ohnesorge (1-3, HR, RBI, R); White (1-2, HR, RBI, R, BB); Teasley (1-3)