While the Indians got production up and down the lineup, the Altamont battery of pitcher Deidre Ledbetter and catcher Lauren White carried the day in a 9-0 win over St. Anthony at the National Trail Conference semifinals Friday.
Ledbetter struck out 10 in a three-hit shutout, while White went 4-for-4 with two triples, an RBI and a run on the day.
Altamont coach John Niebrugge said the two seniors made it look easy for themselves and for their coach as they advanced to the NTC finals against Stew-Stras/Windsor Monday.
"I just make out the lineup sometimes, and these girls can play," he said. "We don't call pitches, it's always (Deidre and Lauren) and they're on point. I think we mixed up pitches better today."
Ledbetter kickstarted the offense in the first inning, driving in Madison Ohnesorge with a triple and scoring herself on a throwing error to put Altamont up 2-0.
St. Anthony looked to answer in the second when Hunter Niebrugge led off with a triple of her own. But Ledbetter forced a popout, a grounder back to the mound and a strikeout to strand Niebrugge.
The Indians responded four in the second on an RBI single by Madison Ohnesorge, a sacrifice fly by Lauren Ohnesorge and an RBI triple by White, chasing starter Jenna Woltman from the circle.
"Hunter came up and hit that triple, I thought we could get a few on here to strike back and start rolling, but it just never did happen," said St. Anthony coach Crystal Tipton. "They put the ball in play, we made some errors mentally and errors physically, and against a team like Altamont, those are costly."
Niebrugge credited Ledbetter for her savvy in dealing with the top half of the inning.
"Deidre made a good play on that comebacker, looked (Niebrugge) back (to third) and threw to first," he said. "That's what seniors do. They stepped up."
After Woltman was replaced by Makayla Walsh on the mound, the game morphed into a pitcher's duel, with Altamont having three hits for the rest of the game and St. Anthony tallying two.
Altamont scored three more in the sixth on a groundout and two errors, all unearned against Walsh.
"It was definitely one of Makayla's better games," Tipton said. "She was hitting their spots. She struck out some of their key players, maybe if we started her at the beginning, different game, I don't know."
She pitched 4.1 innings and allowed three hits, three runs and no earned while striking out six. Niebrugge, Walsh and Woltman all went 1-for-3 for St. Anthony.
Nikki Tharp, both Madison and Lauren Ohnesorge, and Ledbetter all had an RBI on the day, with Madison Ohnesorge and Ledbetter scoring twice. White's 4-for-4 day was part of a recent trend for the catcher.
"Lauren is hitting everything hard right now," Niebrugge said. "We keep track of everytime they're hitting the ball hard, and she's about 60 percent the past 10, 15 games."
St. Anthony falls to 15-10 and plays at St. Elmo/Brownstown Monday in the third-place game, with Tipton stating simply, "We're looking for third."
Altamont is now 21-4 and hosts the NTC title game, looking to repeat as champs at 4 p.m. Monday. The Indians defeated Windsor in last year's title game 3-0, so this year's is a rematch of sorts with the Stew-Stras/Windsor co-op.
St. Anthony 000 000 0 0 3 4
Altamont 240 003 X 9 9 1
WP - Ledbetter (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 10 K, 0 BB) LP - Woltman (1.2 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 1 K, 2 BB)
St. Anthony: Woltman (1-3); Walsh (1-3); Niebrugge (1-3, 3B)
Altamont: M. Ohnesorge (1-3, RBI, 2 R, HBP); Phillips (1-4, R); Ledbetter (1-3, 3B, RBI, 2 R, BB, SB); L. Ohnesorge (0-1, RBI, R, BB, HBP); White (4-4, 2 3B, RBI, R); Burns (0-2, R, BB, SB, HBP); Tharp (0-4, RBI); Smith (1-3, R, BB); Winters (1-3)