The Hatchets of Windsor/Stewardson-Strasburg used a power surge from the middle of the lineup to help defeat host Meridian at the IHSA Class 1A Macon (Meridian) Sectional softball championship Friday afternoon 8-1.
In the bottom of the first the Hatchets had a pair of home runs, including a 2-run shot to straight center field from Megan Schlechte to go up 2-0 before Calla Roney added a solo shot to give her a 3-0 lead going back out into the circle.
“That was huge,” said Windsor/Stewardson-Strasburg pitcher Calla Roney. “Run support as a pitcher is awesome. Having that to lean back on if you give up a run or a hit here or there and it seems like no big deal, especially whenever you’ve got bats behind you that can back you up.”
“The wind played a huge factor in our last game and I knew the win would be different today,” said Hatchets head coach Craig Moffett. “But in the middle innings once a couple of girls hit the ball over the fence, I feel like some people were trying a little bit too hard to do too much.”
They were able to add a run in the bottom of the second Ava Bennett was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. a single from Maddy Pfeiffer allowed Bennett to advance to third before coming in to score on a bunt single from Katrina Davis that put the Hatchets up 4-0.
Roney cruised on the mound, hitting her only trouble in the top of the fifth when Meridian got back-to-back 2-out singles and a walk to load the bases. But she kept her composure and got the third out on a looking strikeout to keep the lead at 4-0.
In the bottom of the fifth, Schlechte drew a walk and stole second before Mackenzi Tabbert joined in on the action with a 2-run home run to increase the lead to six.
The 3-4-5 hitters for the Hatchets made up of Schlechte, Tabbert and Roney respectively combined for three home runs and five RBIs on the day.
“The middle of the order has produced all year,” Moffett said. “It’s great to sprinkle them in in any order. It’s great to have that depth.”
But the Hatchets weren’t done in the inning, as Karlie Bean got aboard with a 2-out single and advanced to third on a double from Bennett. Pfeiffer then came through with a clutch 2-out single to drive in Bennett and Bean to increase the lead to eight.
In the top of the sixth, Schlechte came in to face the heart of the Meridian order. Meridian’s Jesse Damery got the team’s only run on the day on a solo home run to make it 8-1.
But in the top of the seventh, Moffett turned to Bean to help slam the door shut and she did just that, striking out two on the way to closing the game and giving her team the win.
Roney earned the win in the circle, finishing with five innings pitched, four hits allowed, no runs and six strikeouts.
“I felt really good,” Roney said. “It’s probably the best I’ve felt all year, especially coming back from injury. I was ready. This was a big game for me and I wanted to come out and win.”
“Since she’s gotten back, I think she’s getting better every day,” Moffett said. “She competes in practice just like she does in the game. That’s why she’s good. She continues to work on her craft and try to get better.”
The Hatchets improve to 36-1-1 and will take on Calhoun at 11 a.m. Monday at the IHSA Class 1A Springfield (UIS) Supersectional at the University of Illinois Springfield.