OREGON — St. Bede advanced to the Oregon 2A Sectional softball finals behind the right arm of senior Lainie Schweickert and the bats in the bottom half of their order on the way to a dominating 6-0 victory Tuesday over Rock Island Alleman.
Schweickert, who was one out from a no-hitter, dominated from beginning to end. She set the first six batters down in order, including striking out the side in the second inning, before the bats came alive and gave her some breathing room.
With one out, junior center fielder Tara Kunkel got things going with a slap single in the second base hole. She proceeded to steal second and then take third on a passed ball.
It looked like Kunkel would be stranded at third until junior right fielder Christine Daley drove in the first of two key RBIs when she stroked a two-out single to plate Kunkel and give Schweickert all the runs she would need.
Daley, who said she didn’t know there were two outs, commented on the hit, “It felt good, I’ve been in a slump this year so it feels good to get ‘em when we need them.”
Daley’s single was followed by a pair of RBI doubles off the bats of junior Lexie Miranda and senior Lydia Stariha. It was the No. 6-9 place hitters that provided much of the damage for the Bruins all night long.
“We all have a role,” Bruin coach Bill Prokup said. “Not everybody can bat first. It’s nice having the strength six, seven, eight and nine.”
Daley was in the center of all of the scoring, driving in a run with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning as the Bruins added an insurance run and then walking and scoring a run in the sixth when St. Bede added two more to put the game away.
Stariha, the leadoff hitter, who was 2-4 and had two RBIs thanks to the table setting of the bottom portion of the line up, was complementary of her teammates.
“They stepped up big. They’ve been stepping up big. I think the rest of the year everyone should hit like that – the whole team,” she said.
Even though Daley and the offense had a fantastic game, it’s hard to deny Schweickert the gameball as the player of the game. She racked up 10 strikeouts and had only two walks as she had the Pioneers off balance all game.
Allmen had only counted two decently struck balls, and both of those went for outs.
“Everything was working today,” Schweickert said. “Rise, change, screw. My changeup was big.”
Even though the game was well in hand from the bottom of the second on, Schweickert made sure there was some drama as she held the Pioneer batters hitless throughout the first six innings. After coaxing the first two batters to pop up back to her, it looked like she would complete the no-no.
But then junior shortstop Mackenzie Sanchez was able to hit a soft line drive that landed just beyond the second base bag. The ball was not hit hard at all, but unfortunately it found a fielderless part of the field.
“I wanted the no-hitter,” said Schweickert. “I knew it was a hit when she hit it. But it didn’t matter. It didn’t do anything. I wasn’t upset. We had a good game going. We all hit very well. It’s a big win for us.”
St. Bede, now 22-5 on the year, will face Stillman Valley at 11 a.m. Saturday for the sectional championship for a chance to advance to the DeKalb Supersectional game. Stillman Valley beat Pecatonica 9-0 in Tuesday’s nightcap.
Alleman goes home as a regional champ, a sectional qualifier, and the owner of a 22-9-1 record.