BEECHER CITY -- With Altamont’s Deidre Ledbetter and Windsor’s Lindsay Floyd on the mound of Tuesday’s National Trail Conference tournament title, there was little margin for error. Two of the top pitchers in the conference, Ledbetter and Floyd put on a show for those in attendance, as Floyd struck out six while Ledbetter fanned twelve.
Each team struggled to solve the opposing pitcher, looking for any possible mistake to pounce and make the deciding move. Windsor made two of those costly plays, twice losing a pop fly in the sun. One dropped off a fielder’s glove in the third and the other fell harmlessly to the grass as two defenders tried to find the lost ball in the fourth, combining to allow three Indians to cross home plate.
The three runs were all the offense Altamont needed, and the Lady Indians rode Ledbetter to a complete-game shutout to win the NTC tournament title.
“A couple mistakes,” Windsor coach Brian Lee said of the two plays. “That’s what I told our girls. I said, ‘We have to play perfect. If we don’t, they’re going to take advantage.’”
The game started as a back-and-forth deal between the two pitchers, with Ledbetter keeping a perfect game going into the fourth and Floyd having allowed just three hits during the same stretch.
But the fourth frame proved to be the difference. Lauren White reached first on a walk, Floyd’s only of the game, and advanced to second on a fielder’s choice from Gabby Alwardt. Alex Teasley next stepped into the batter’s box with two outs, and skied a shot straight into right field. Windsor’s Kassy Strowmatt appeared to have the ball safely in her glove, but it wiggled out at the last second to allow White to score and give the Indians a 1-0 edge.
“Even something as simple as not fielding a ball in the outfield cleanly, they’re going to take that extra base on you,” Lee said.
For Windsor faithful, it was like deja vu in the fifth. Jolene Northrup and Maddie Ohnesorge started the inning with back-to-back singles, before a fielder’s choice from Josie Phillips gave Altamont runners on second and third with one out.
Ledbetter, having already struck out six, decided to make an impact at the plate as well, sending a high ball again to right field, where two Windsor players seemed to lose the ball in the sunlight. It would fall to the field without being caught, and both Northrup and Ohnesorge coasted home for a three-run lead.
“You’ve got less than two outs, you’ve got to see what happens,” Altamont coach John Niebrugge said. “Deidre came up in a big situation, got the ball up in the air. She did what she was supposed to do, and it fell.”
The fifth-inning scoring marked the end of the game’s runs. Ledbetter, as she had already done so many times before in the contest, stepped to the mound and delivered precision pitch after precision pitch. She struck out six in the last three innings, ending the game with a strikeout of Windsor’s Mercedez Austin to give Altamont the championship.
“That was probably one of her best games,” Niebrugge said. “She struck out twelve, and it was her second back-to-back of the year. Her doing that, she pitched a whale of a game.”
Ledbetter may have helped lift the Lady Indians to a 14-4 semifinal win two days ago, but she showed no signs of rust on the biggest stage of the year. Windsor finished with three hits on the afternoon, two by Floyd, as Ledbetter faced just 24 batters in total, three above the minimum.
“I know she’s good, she’s solid,” Lee said of Ledbetter. “There’s no doubt about that. I was a little disappointed with how we put the ball in play.”
There was no disappointment, however, in Windsor’s effort. The appearance in the tournament title was a first for Windsor, and Lee was extremely proud of his team.
“I said listen, “You just made history,’” Lee said. “We’ve never played in that game before. It’s just another game, the only difference is that you’ve got to play perfect against this team, and we didn’t.”
Windsor fell to 11-7 following the loss, and the Lady Blue Devils are back in action today against Charleston.
Altamont improved to 14-3 with the huge win, and Niebrugge’s squad travels to Dieterich today for a date with the Lady Maroons, though they will remember yesterday’s game for a while.
“Winning the NTC is always a good thing, that was one of our goals,” he said. “It’s a treat.”
Braden Layer can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Windsor 000 000 0 0 3 2
Altamont 000 120 x 3 6 0
WP - Ledbetter LP - Floyd
Windsor: Floyd (1B, 2B); Reed (1B).
Altamont: M. Ohnesorge (1B); Phillips (2B); Ledbetter (1B); White (1B); Alwardt (2B); Northrup (1B).