Effingham Daily News
Standing on deck, St. Anthony's Makalya Walsh saw teammate Jenna Woltman hit a deep fly ball to right field and Neoga's Kyndall Andrews find a position underneath it, using her glove to block the sun.
The ball found Andrews' glove, but bounced out of it, allowing St. Anthony's Paige Koester to score and the fourth inning to continue with two outs.
Walsh took the first pitch she saw against Neoga's Bayley Neece deep over the left field wall for a two-run home run, snatching back the lead she gave up on the mound an inning earlier. It lifted the Bulldogs to their 8-6 win in the quarterfinals of the National Trail Conference Tournament on Wednesday.
“We needed that one,” St. Anthony head coach Crystal Tipton said.
The home run put the stamp on St. Anthony's comeback from down 5-3 at in the bottom of the fourth inning to ahead, 6-5, by the end of the frame.
“That one error makes a big difference,” Neoga head coach Andrea Morgan said. “It changes the swing and momentum of the game.”
Jenna Woltman helped St. Anthony find a way out of Neoga's three-run fourth inning, after the Indians chased Walsh from the pitching circle with two runners on and one out.
Chloe Padgett's two-RBI single was the last straw for Walsh, who went 3 1-3 innings as the starter on the mound. She gave up five runs on seven hits.
Woltman came in and struck out the next two Neoga hitters to end the inning, stranding a pair of runners.
She pitched the last 3 2-3 innings, giving up three hits and finishing with six strikeouts against the Indians.
“Jenna came in and was clutch,” Tipton said. “She was really doing her job. She was really putting (her pitches) in there. She did a great job and you can't say enough for that.”
Behind Woltman's momentum in the pitching circle, Kate Richards led off the fifth inning with one of her two doubles in the game and later came around to score on a ground out by Megan Nuxoll.
Maddie Schuette scored on a passed ball for the second run of the inning, cushioning the lead to 8-5.
Woltman faced the top of the Indians' batting order in the seventh inning and started it by striking out Andrews, but Neece and Casi Blazich singled back-to-back.
Amber Potter grounded out, but picked up an RBI to shrink the lead, 8-6, leaving the game in the hands of Kristen Albin with two outs. Albin already had two hits in the game, including a double that sent Nuxoll tumbling over the right field fence.
Albin's two hits came against Walsh, but Woltman forced her to ground out in her two plate appearances against her, including the final out of the game.
The win advances St. Anthony to the next round of the tournament, where the Bulldogs will play top-seeded Altamont, but it also avenges an early season loss to the Indians, 5-4.
“When you're playing a team that hits that well, you either make it or not,” Morgan said. “The first (game) we made it, this time we didn't.”
Neoga falls into the loser's bracket of the NTC tournament to play South Central at 4 p.m. Friday in Neoga. St. Anthony's game in Altamont also begins at 4 p.m.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or email@example.com.
Neoga 020 300 1 6 10 4
St. Anthony 021 320 X 8 9 2
WP - Woltman (3 2-3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 6 K, 1 BB) LP - Neece (6 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 2 K)
Neoga: Neece (2 1B), C. Blazich (1B), Potter (1B, 2 R, RBI), Albin (1B, 2B, SB, 2 R), Effner (2 1B, 2 RBI), Posten (2 BB), Padgett (1B, 2 RBI), J. Blazich (1B)
St. Anthony: Koester (1B, SB), Woltman (3B, RBI), Walsh (1B, HR, 2 RBI), Niebrugge (1B, SB), Richards (2 2B, RBI), M Schuette (2B, SB, 2 R), Nuxoll (RBI), Gardewine (2B, RBI, SB)