By BRADEN LAYER Daily News
Effingham Daily News
---- — ST. ELMO - Altamont head coach John Niebrugge is admittedly a little intense. So much so, in fact, that his team had to remind him to settle down after a sluggish warmup before Tuesday’s opening round of the St. Elmo Regional softball tournament against the host team.
“The girls were getting after me a little bit,” he said. “We didn’t have a real good warmup, I was getting intense. They said, ‘Coach, relax.’”
The Lady Indians took this calm demeanor into their game against St.Elmo/Brownstown, but their performance at the place was anything but peaceful.
Altamont ripped off seven runs in the opening inning off seven hits. By the end of the fifth, the Lady Indians had peppered the field for 18 hits and 13 runs, cruising to a 13-0 defeat of the Lady Eagles to advance to Friday’s regional title game.
“The pitching was there, the hitting was there, the first inning was probably the best hitting we’ve had all year,” Niebrugge said after the game, noticeably calmer. “Sam (Austin) is a good pitcher, we just made good contact and hit the ball up the middle.”
After starter Deidre Ledbetter retired her first three batters, Altamont’s Maddie Ohnesorge took her stance in the batter’s box ready to roll. She delivered an infield single, and there was no slowing the Lady Indians from there. Josie Phillips, Lauren Ohnesorge, Alex Teasley and Maddie Ohnesorge, in her second at-bat of the inning, all drove in runs for Altamont in the bottom of the first frame. By the time the Lady Eagles were able to get their third out, Altamont was already entrenched with a 7-0 advantage.
“That’s a very good team,” St. Elmo/Brownstown coach Megan Burrus said. “We didn’t play our best in the first inning and it showed, it deflated our sails a lot.”
The Lady Indians were held off the board in the second, but Altamont plated four more in the third, all with two outs. Maddie Ohnesorge had an RBI single, Phillips delivered an RBI triple, Ledbetter lined an RBI up the gut and Lauren Ohnesorge plated one off an RBI double.
“When you step to the plate, and you got somebody on base, we’re looking to drive the ball,” Niebrugge said.
His team executed the game plan to perfection, as seven Lady Indians recorded at least one RBI. Maddie Ohnesorge had four hits, Ledbetter had three, and four other Altamont players had two hits.
The Lady Indians scored their final two runs in the fourth off RBI singles from Ledbetter and Nikki Tharp.
Ledbetter, starting her second game on the mound in as many days after a 2-1 victory Monday over Windsor, was her usual self on the hill. Though she didn’t deliver quite as many strikeouts, the ace allowed only two hits and no runs, still fanning five.
“Deidre threw a whale of a game,” Niebrugge said. “She didn’t strike out many, but she used her defense. Up 7-0 to start, that’s the mentality to take.”
Altamont improved to 17-3 on the season, and the Lady Indians play Friday in a rematch against one their most competitive foes of the season in Mulberry Grove. The two first met April 30 at Altamont.
“We beat them 3-2, but Mullbery Grove is a good ballclub,” Niebrugge said. “We’re taking it one game at a time, we know we’re going to have to come to play Friday night.”
Danie Austin and Savannah Feezel each had a single for St. Elmo/Brownstown, whose season came to a close with a 7-16 record.
Braden Layer can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or at email@example.com
St. Elmo/Brownstown 000 00x x 0 2 1
Altamont 704 2xx x 13 18 0
WP - Ledbetter LP - S. Austin
St. Elmo/Brownstown: D. Austin (1B); Feezel (1B).
Altamont: M. Ohnesorge (3 1B, 2B, 2 RBI); Phillips (1B, 3B, 2 RBI); Ledbetter (3 1B, 2 RBI); L. Ohnesorge (2B, 3 RBI); White (2 1B); Teasley (1B, RBI); Smith (1B); Tharp (1B, RBI); Northrop (2 1B, RBI).