By BRADEN LAYER
---- — St. Anthony and Beecher City/Cowden-Herrick entered Monday’s National Trail Conference softball game with identical 0-1 records, each team eager to pick up a crucial first “W” in the win column.
That was about the only thing identical between them.
The Lady Bulldogs looked polished and poised, scoring seven runs in the opening inning to build a sizable lead. That number marked just a third of St. Anthony’s runs on the afternoon, as the Lady Bulldogs used two home runs from Makayla Walsh and 21 total hits to coast to a 21-0 victory in their home opener.
“Our bats were really what did the talking,” Lady Bulldogs coach Crystal Tipton said. “Most of our hits were line shots, which is what I like to see.”
St. Anthony dodged a bullet in the top of the first when BCCH’s Autumn Riley was called out for interference running to third on a Kirby Herrmann single. The call negated Herrmann’s RBI on the play, and Riley was out at second base to hold the Lady Eagles off the scoreboard.
“We started out tough,” BCCH coach Carolyn Wendte said. “Then we had that call that didn’t really go our way.”
The ruling took the wind out of the sails for BCCH (0-2), and St. Anthony was all too willing to pounce on the opportunity. After Paige Koester singled and Morgan Gardewine reached first off a walk, Walsh, who also started on the mound for the Lady Bulldogs, showed her versatility with a deep three-run homer that cleared the center-field wall with plenty of room to spare.
After Walsh’s big bat got St. Anthony on the board, there seemed to be no end in sight to the scoring. The home team added four more runs in the opening frame, the final coming off an RBI single from Koester.
Walsh sent the first three batters she faced back to the dugout in the top of the second, and St. Anthony tacked on three more runs in its next trip to the plate. Kristen Schuette brought in a pair off her triple to right field before Meghan Woltman got in on the action with an RBI double to make it a 10-0 ballgame through two innings.
Tipton was especially pleased with her team’s ability to deliver consistent line drives off Herrmann, the starter for the Lady Eagles.
“We didn’t have a lot of high, fly balls,” Tipton said. “It was nice to see the drives and the balls on the ground versus the ones in the air. I can’t complain.”
There was almost constant cheering from the St. Anthony dugout on the afternoon, with seemingly everyone in the order stepping up at the plate. After a two-run third inning, the Lady Bulldogs put the finishing touches on their signature win by plating nine more runs in the bottom of inning four.
St. Anthony’s batters opened the frame with nine straight hits, including Walsh’s second home run of the day, and extra-base hits from Morgan Gardewine and Emma Richards.
“We saw the ball, we drove it and found the hole quite a few times,” Tipton said. “That’s what we need to do going forward for this season.”
Walsh finished with five RBIs on the day, Gardewine had three, Schuette and Woltman tallied two, and four other players knocked in a run apiece.
On the mound, Walsh pitched four shutout innings for the Lady Bulldogs, only allowing four hits with one strikeout. Schuette got the save for St. Anthony, striking out two batters and getting the third to fly out to right field in the fifth and final inning.
Kirby Herrmann got the loss for BCCH, who will look to put this game in the rearview mirror.
“I’ve got a lot of kids that have never played before,” Wendte said. “We just don’t know the little, basic fundamentals. We’re going to keep working hard and see what we can come up with.”
The win pushed St. Anthony back to .500 at 1-1, and the Bulldogs will look to use this outing to help build some momentum going forward.
“It was our first win, first home game and first conference game,” Tipton said. “It’s hopefully something we can build on. We’ve got some tough games coming up.”
St. Anthony returns to action this afternoon when they host St. Teresa.
Braden Layer can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or at email@example.com
R H E
BCCH 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 2
St. Anthony 7 3 2 9 x 21 21 3
WP - Walsh LP - Herrmann
BCCH -- A. Riley (1B, 2B); Pierce (1B); Herrmann (1B); Lawrence (1B);
St. Anthony -- Walsh (3 R HR, 2 R HR, 1B, 5 RBI); Gardewine (1B, 2B, 3B, 3 RBI); K. Schuette (2 1B, 3B, 2 RBI); Woltman (2 1B, 2 RBI); Koester (3 1B, RBI); Brummer (RBI); E. Richards (RBI); M. Schuette (RBI); K. Richards (RBI).