Despite cold and windy conditions, the bats of the Windsor/Stewardson-Strasburg Hatchets remained red hot, downing the St. Anthony Lady Bulldogs 9-0 at the IHSA Class 1A Macon Sectional semifinal Tuesday.
"We had nine runs, but it was one of those games where we could've had more," said Hatchets head coach Craig Moffett. "Their center fielder played really well. We had good at-bats up and down the lineup and that's what we're looking for."
"A 9-0 game didn't really reflect how I felt it played," said St. Anthony head coach Crystal Tipton. "We had some mishaps early that really cost us. If you take those four or five runs out, it's a closer game and maybe we have more of a chance to stay in the game.
"But I was proud of the girls. We had a few goals we had going in and we achieved those goals. We got a regional title that nobody can take away from us."
Carson Cole led off the game with a walk and stole second. A sacrifice bunt from Hannah Hayes allowed Cole to get to third before scoring on a Lady Bulldogs error to go up 1-0.
Megan Schlechte started in the circle for the Hatchets and tossed a pair of shutout innings while striking out four.
In the top of the second, the Hatchets got a pair of runners aboard on back-to-back errors from the Lady Bulldogs, which allowed a sacrifice bunt from Maddy Pfeiffer allowed Karlie Bean to score and take a 2-0 lead.
In the top of the third, the first two Hatchets went down in order before Mackenzi Tabbert drew a walk and scored all the way from first on a single from Calla Roney to take a 3-0 lead.
Roney then came in for relief and was dominant, allowing just one hit and no runs over three innings with four strikeouts.
In the bottom of the third however, it looked like the Lady Bulldogs were going to get on the board. Jessica Coffin drew a one-out walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. A sacrifice bunt from Allie Day allowed Coffin to move to third. On a passed ball, Coffin broke for the plate, but a great play from Tabbert to get the ball back to the covering Roney was in time to tag the runner out for the third out and get out of the inning unscathed.
In the top of the fourth, Pfeiffer led off with a double for the Hatchets and came in to score on a double from Carson Cole. A sacrifice bunt from Hayes allowed Cole to move up to third before Schlechte singled her home to take a 5-0 lead.
The wind proved to be a factor all day, causing fly balls and popups to be carried. That was true in the bottom of the fourth when a ball was popped up to the Hatchets' second baseman Ava Bennett. The win took it and allowed the ball to drop just a few feet away from first base. But she kept with the play and hit the ball with her glove over to first base in time to get the runner.
In the top of the fifth, Bennett homered to left to put the Hatchets up 6-0. The top of the sixth was the only inning in which the Hatchets didn't score.
After tossing a scoreless sixth inning of relief, Bean started the top of the seventh with a double and was later able to advance to third on an error before coming in to score on a sacrifice fly to go up 7-0.
Pfeiffer followed with a single before Katrina Davis was hit by a pitch to put two on with one out. Carson Cole was able to bring both runners in and increase the lead to nine. The three pitchers combine for 12 strikeouts on the day and just four hits allowed. It was however the first time in the team's last five wins Moffett used more than one pitcher.
"They're all good, but also extremely competitive," Moffett said. "At this point in the season, it was a good opportunity to get everybody in the game and keep them sharp."
That proved to be more than enough run support, as Bean struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh to give the Hatchets the win and advance to the sectional final Friday.
The Lady Bulldogs end the season at 19-9-1.
"This was a group that never gives up," Tiptson said. "That's them. It's kind of my personality too. I never let them get down on themselves. That's when things go sour. They love this game and live for it. For them to stay upbeat and positive as seniors knowing it's their last game was really special to see.
"It was a really fun season. We had 19 wins and a regional title. I hope they carry on the memories, always look back on them with fondness while continuing to do well."