The Teutopolis Wooden Shoes aren’t quite synonomous with the idea of a team reaching state in Illinois, but it’d be hard to find a school that gets there more often across the board.
With that in mind, it made the Lady Shoes’ 2-1 win over Carterville at Super-Sectionals Tuesday all the sweeter for players and coaches alike, as the Shoes joined the likes of their baseball and boys and girls basketball programs with a trip to state.
Junior Madison Cowman scored the game-winning run for the Shoes Tuesday, and said that it was something her team knew could happen even as they ran out of outs, down 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth.
“It was so different, it was something we’ve never felt before,” she said. “With all the chemistry we’ve had this year, we knew something good was going to come out of it.”
The team has had balance up and down the lineup and even the grades at Teutopolis, with seniors like Kaitlin Smith, Mackenzie Wermert and Jessica Schumacher playing big roles, down to freshmen like Raegan Drees, who scored the game-tying run before Cowman on Anni Borries’ two-run triples.
In the middle has been juniors like Cowman and Julie Wente, along with four sophomores in the middle of the lineup in Anni and Kadi Borries, Allison Apke and Danielle Repking.
Both Cowman and Kadi Borries were part of last year’s team that was no-hit at Super-Sectionals by Nasvhille in a 3-0 loss.
Borries pitched both that game and Tuesday’s win over Carterville, and could see the transformation from last year’s shortcomings to Tuesday’s dramatic state-clinching win for the Shoes.
“Last year, we were really good,” she said. “But we are practicing so hard, every practice it’s like we want to do better because we want to make it to state. I think we’re going to do really good in state.”
While Cowman, Borries, and the rest of last year’s Shoes rejoiced after avenging their loss to Nashville, coach Rich Niebrugge finally broke through his team’s roadblock.
Teutopolis lost to Carterville 6-0 at Super-Sectionals in 2008, 14-0 at Super-Sectionals to Stanford Olympia in 2009 and 3-0 to Nashville last season. The first two of those teams went on to win state, while Nashville finished third last year.
Niebrugge was quick to give credit to his players on Tuesday and Wednesday, but did admit it was fulfilling for him as well.
“It is rewarding, it has been a long time coming,” he said. “There’s a lot that goes into it, I wish everyone who had something go into it could all get a piece of the joy I’m going through. A lot of summer coaches, a lot of dads playing catch with their girls, a lot of junior high coaches. A lot goes into the point where a team goes to state, and I’m the fortunate one who gets to stand in the coach’s box.
“I absolutely appreciate a day like (Tuesday). Winning’s fun, playing softball’s fun, that’s all fun. But you know, not like last night. Priceless.”
Borries shared that joy.
“Being the first team ever to make it is just the best feeling,” she said. “You never think something like that would happen, and when you do it, it’s awesome.”
Monticello (30-4) and Rock Island Alleman (30-6) kick off the Class 2A state tournament at 3 p.m. Friday, before Teutopolis (28-3) battles Beecher (33-7) at about 5:30 p.m.
For the Shoes and Cowman, it’s about keeping that momentum alive from Tuesday, when a 1-0 deficit was overcome with one swing of the bat.
“The mood of this team is we have to do the best we can no matter what,” she said. “If we’re down by one, we’re gonna make sure we score two that next inning to get the lead and that’s how it’s going be every inning.”