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Lady Bruins heading to state

Published: Monday, May 27, 2013 3:31 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, May 28, 2013 9:40 a.m. CDT
Caption
(BCR photo/Jeff Schlesinger)
The St. Bede Lady Bruins celebrate their sectional championship after outlasting Stillman Valley 1-0 at Oregon Saturday. The Lady Bruins added on to their victory parade, defeating Aurora Central Catholic 6-1 in Monday’s DeKalb Super-Sectional to advance to IHSA 2A State finals in East Peoria this Saturday.
Caption
(BCR photo/Jeff Schlesinger)
St. Bede’s Tara Kunkel takes one for the team off the helmet on a hit by pitch Saturday. She reached on a slap single and scored the winning run.
Caption
(BCR photo/Jeff Schlesinger)
Senior shortstop Abby Nowakowski connects for the game-winning run for St. Bede in the top of the 10th inning in Saturday’s sectional title game at Oregon.

UPDATE

DEKALB — The St. Bede Lady Bruins captured Monday’s DeKalb 2A Super-Sectional, defeating Aurora Central Catholic 6-1. 

The win propels the Lady Bruins (23-5) to their first state finals appearance and the first for any girls sports team.

St. Bede will play at 3 p.m. Friday at East Peoria, awaiting the winner of Wednesday’s Athens Supersectional.

Lady Bruins win sectional title in 10 innings

OREGON — The St. Bede Bruins rode the right arm of Lainie Schweickert to a sectional championship with a 10 inning 1-0 victory over the Stillman Valley Cardinals to earn a trip to DeKalb on Monday for a super-sectional matchup against Aurora Central Catholic.

Senior Abby Nowakowski drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th to send the Lady Bruins into Monday’s super-sectional.

Schweickert had one of her more dominating performances of the season, striking out 20 and allowing only three singles to the Cardinals who had been a potent offense until this game. Schweickert did not allow any runners beyond second base, set the Cardinals down in order in seven of the 10 innings, and in the five-inning stretch from the third through seventh inning, recorded 14 of the 15 outs by strikeouts.

“I take her (Schweickert) for granted sometimes,” said Bruins’ coach Bill Prokup. “I know she’s going to keep us in the game. I couldn’t be prouder of her. To me she’s an all-state candidate and I hope she gets that recognition.”

It may have been the arm of Schweickert that carried the game, but it was the legs of junior center-fielder Tara Kunkel that provided the lone run. Kunkel came up with one out in the tenth and slapped one to the left side.

It was obvious to everyone present except Cardinal shortstop Karissa Dobson that there was no chance to throw her out at first. Dobson uncorked a throw that appeared to be on the mark, but second baseman Sydney Johnson was not in position to catch it and the ball went down the right field line.

Kunkel used her speed to race all the way to third base and put the winning run just 60 feet away.

“I knew I had to get on base,” she said. “As it happened, she overthrew it and I got to second and my coach was calling me to third.”

Kunkel got on base all five times she came to the plate with four singles and one hit by pitch. Prokup had nothing but compliments for his junior, calling her the co-player of the game.

“Tara Kunkel put the pressure on the defense the whole afternoon – player of the game. Tara’s done a great job. She’s really picked it up the last couple of weeks,” Prokup said.

Nowakowski followed Kunkel by hitting a ball that appeared to be off the end of the bat. But it looped over the head of the third baseman for a single and brought Kunkel in for the lead.

“I just had to get the ball in play,” Nowakowski said. “Coach was thinking about bringing in Julia Pohar to bunt with Tara on third base to do a squeeze. I knew I had to show him he made the right choice.”

Schweickert made that run hold up in the bottom of the tenth by coaxing two pop ups and ending the game – appropriately – with a strikeout.

“She’s a senior and great pitcher,” Stillman coach Shawn Byers said. “My girls could not measure her. She had them off balance the entire game.”

The game appeared to be a pitchers’ duel from the score. But the work of the Cardinal pitcher - sophomore Payton Abbot - might be better described as that of an escape artist. Though she did record 11 strikeouts, the Bruins had 12 hits and stranded 13 runners, including three of them at third base.

Abbot owes a great deal to her left fielder who battled the swirling wind to record five outs on the afternoon, including a key catch of a long drive off the bat of Christine Daley that she caught just in front of the fence with two on in the sixth inning.

“Donnie (Baldin) and I were sitting in the dugout and talking about it,” said Prokup. “We needed to catch a break. It was going to come down to whoever got it. And we got it.”

Stillman Valley ends the season with a record of 26-3.

Headed to state

The St. Bede Lady Bruins captured Monday’s DeKalb 2A Super-Sectional, defeating Aurora Central Catholic 6-1.

The win propels the Lady Bruins (23-5) to their first state finals appearance and the first for any girls sports team.

St. Bede will play at 3 p.m. Friday at East Peoria, awaiting the winner of Wednesday’s Athens Supersectional.

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