Alleman 2A softball regional: Princeton 6, Alleman 0
MOLINE — Princeton softball coach Joe Bates was fearing a repeat of a script he had seen too many times this season from his team.
With the Alleman softball team starting Wednesday’s tournament game by pulling off its best Houdini acts in the early going, it kept the Tigresses from capitalizing on a couple of key early chances.
In the end, though, it was the Tigresses who had all the magic.
After missing out on scoring chances in the first and second innings, the Tigresses broke a scoreless tie with the hosting Pioneers in the fifth and then broke open the game in the seventh en route to a 6-0 victory in the IHSA Class 2A Alleman Regional at Rose Field.
The fifth-seeded Tigresses (14-10) advance to play top-seeded Erie-Prophetstown (22-8) for the title. That game has been postponed to 2 p.m. Saturday back at the Alleman Sports Complex, located at 1186 43rd Ave., Moline.
“In a number of games this season, we did the same things,” said Bates, worried those early missed chances would prove critical. “We were able to get base runners, but were unable to bring them in. More often than not, we had an inning or two we were able to break through. If you keep the other team from doing the same things, it turned out well.”
On Wednesday, it turned out very well for the Tigresses, who eventually broke through with a single run in the fifth on back-to-back doubles by No. 9 hitter Kenzie Coleman and leadoff batter Kendra Cain.
The Tigresses, who out-hit the Pioneers 12-2, then left no doubt in the seventh when they sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five times on six hits and a sacrifice fly. An error also kept alive the inning for an extra run.
Coleman (2-for-3, two runs) keyed both scoring innings for the Tigresses. No. 8 hitter Katie Bauer and No. 2 hitter Hannah Muehlschlegel were also 2-for-3 with a run scored. Cain led the offense going 3-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI.
“We were getting some hits, but we weren’t putting them together, but we were knocking on the door,” said Bates. “We got one in there in the fifth and once we got things rolling, they really started coming.”
Alleman found ways to stay in the game early with some defensive gems. However, the fourth-seeded Pioneers couldn’t do anything offensively against freshman Princeton pitcher Katie Bates, who allowed just two Alleman hits – both by sophomore Rachael Winkel.
Alleman had just four base runners in the game, with two of them getting as far as second base with two outs.
That’s disappointing and has been the thing all year; we just don’t make any adjustments (at the plate),” said Alleman coach Mike Ebner, whose club was missing its top two pitchers to injuries. “We just keep trying to do the same things and it doesn’t work. Obviously, it didn’t work tonight.”
Ebner was hopeful the offense could match the defense that his team displayed early behind sophomore pitcher Kiley McConville (4-9). In the first, the Tigers’ first out was made at third base. They then loaded the bases before the hosts turned a 1-2-3 double play with the batter being called out on interference for running inside the baseline when catcher Alicia Casas’s throw hit her in the back.
In the second, Casas gunned down a runner at third trying to steal.
“You gotta believe things are going to happen for you,” said Ebner of thinking those early defensive escapes would be a harbinger of good things to come.
All that defense, though, didn’t make any difference once the Tigers got things rolling.
Coach Bates is hoping the offense can continue to click in Friday’s championship tilt.
“We’ve been playing pretty good the last couple of weeks,” said the coach. “There’s no doubt (E-P is) a good team and will bring their very, very best. We’ll do the same and it will be a toe-to-toe battle just like this one was.”
(Thomas Johnston is a sportswriter for the Rock Island Argus/Moline Dispatch)