EAST PEORIA —
Lauren White powered Altamont to school history, as her two-run home run in the sixth inning proved to be the difference in a 2-1 win over Campbell Hill Trico in the Class 1A state championship game clinched the Indians' first-ever state championship Saturday afternoon.
Trico took a 1-0 lead in the fifth on a solo home run by Emily Bauersachs to dead center field. Altamont had pressured the Pioneers, leaving two on in the second, third and fourth, but went down in order in the fifth.
Lauren Ohnesorge led off the inning with a single, and White made her at-bat count with a homer of her own to dead center as well.
"We knew we had to put up, come out dangerous and we did," she said. :It was sailing, but I was jumping up and down going to first hoping it was over."
It was a matter of scouting and experience against pitcher Jordan Lodge, as the Indians and White knew what to look for.
"I wasn't going to bunt her, but it did creep up into the back of your head, because you're playing for one run," said Altamont coach John Niebrugge. "We knew the pitcher got ahead early and threw riseballs to get you out. She laid off the riseballs early and got her count. Big time players step up, and Lauren White is huge."
Pitcher Deidre Ledbetter held the Pioneers in the seventh, retiring Bauersachs on a popout back to the mound to end it, after Bauersachs had
put the Indians in a hole to begin with.
For Ledbetter, the Indians' senior ace, one thought went through her mind.
"Don't let it pop out of my glove. I knew everybody was surrounding me, so I was going to make sure I watched it and secured that ball for the love of my life," she said.
The game was a pitcher's duel for much of the way, with Ledbetter and Lodge holding down the opposing offenses. Until Bauersachs' homer in the fifth, only one Pioneer had even reached scoring position.
On the flip side, Altamont had runners on first and second with one out in the second, with two outs in the third and one out again in the fourth, but couldn't come through.
But come the sixth, White came through where they hadn't to that point.
"To be the first from our school to even get to the state tournament, let alone win state, it's crazy," she said. "It's really special, we've cherished every moment of it."
Ledbetter whiffed two and got the popout, securing the state championship that has eluded Altamont.
Niebrugge said he knew the bats would come around after the early struggles.
"We had a feeling something good was going to happen," he said. "That fifth inning, I said keep putting pressure on them. We were two hits away from having four runs. We weren't intimidated by her at all."
Emotions ran wild as the Indians, or Windians as they've been called in the postseason, took to an auxiliary diamond to claim their state championship, with postgame pictures going on well past the start of Teutopolis' state championship game -- which was started as soon as possible following the Altamont game -- and for good reason.
White was 2-for-3 with her fourth homer of the year, two coming in East Peoria this weekend, with two RBIs. Alex Teasley, Josie Phillips and Ledbetter each went 1-for-3, and Lauren Ohnesorge was 1-for-2 with a run and a walk.
Ledbetter whiffed 10 and allowed just four hits and no walks. Bauersachs was 1-for-3 with a solo shot, and Ashley Modglin, Lodge, and Chloe Thies each were 1-for-3.
"I was a little disappointed in myself, I left a curveball hanging (to Bauersachs), so kicking myself a bit," Ledbetter said. "I knew our offense would come up and they sure did."
Altamont finishes the year as the Class 1A state champions with a 29-4 record. Trico ends the year with a 32-4 record. It was a special experience for all involved on the Altamont side.
"We came up, we wanted one trophy -- didn't think necessarily the big one, but we thought we had a chance," Niebrugge said. :To get the first trophy at Altamont is pretty special, especially for the senior class, and to get the big one for the first time is pretty crazy.
"I've learned a lot, I've learned even on the boys side, to let players be players. These girls have taught me so much about the philosophy of coaching. I've learned a lot from me these girls, I thank them for that."
Campbell Hill Trico 000 010 0 1 4 1
Altamont 000 0002 X 2 6 0
WP - Ledbetter (7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 10 K, 0 BB) LP - Lodge (6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 K, 1 BB)
Trico: Modglin (1-3); Lodge (1-3); Thies (1-3); Bauersachs (1-3, HR, RBI, R)
Altamont: Phillips (1-3); Ledbetter (1-3); L. Ohnesorge (1-2, R, BB); White (2-3, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R); Teasley (1-3)