STE. GENEVIEVE – Alyssa Huber and Brittney Kreitler shared a jubilant embrace near their dugout after getting the last out for Ste. Genevieve in a statement victory on Tuesday evening.
They were immediately reminded by head coach Russ Toombs that despite the positive result, another daunting roadblock still stood between the Dragons and their greater goal.
Persistent hitting helped bring Ste. Genevieve to the precipice of program history, thanks to a thorough 9-1 thumping of fourth-ranked Central in the Class 1, District 5 semifinal round.
Autumn Basler and Kreitler crushed back-to-back solo home runs during the third inning. The Dragons advanced to meet top seed Potosi in the title game on Wednesday.
Izzy Basler finished 2-for-2 with two doubles and two walks, and Autumn Basler was also a perfect 2-for-2 with a sacrifice bunt included from the No. 9 spot in the order.
Central utilized a combination of three hurlers in hopes of curtailing the Ste. Genevieve offense, but a struggle to paint edges of the strike zone resulted in six walks and 11 hits allowed.
Huber was roughed up by the Lady Rebels two weeks earlier in a 16-3 loss at the MAAA Tournament. She was much sharper in the rematch.
Central mustered seven hits overall, but capitalized just once while stranding eight runners. Haley Irwin used a strong throw from right field to end the first inning as Allie Kelly tried to stretch her single.
Huber induced a ground out following a nine-pitch battle with Maddie Manion in the second. Morgan Schwent then started a nifty double play to erase a single by Chloe Coppedge.
Ste. Genevieve (15-6) stranded the bases full in the top of the first after jumping in front 1-0 on a lunging RBI single by Sydney Oehlert against freshman pitcher Taylor Marler.
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Schwent and Kreitler walked in the second and raced home on separate infield throwing errors after outs had been recorded. Lexi Bova followed with her second single in a row for a 4-0 lead.
Izzy Basler greeted Coppedge with a double in the third, and scored on Irwin’s RBI hit. A line out to shortstop Jessica Hulsey created an ensuing.
The momentum continued to build in favor of the Dragons, however, when the drive from Autumn Basler easily cleared the fence in left. Kreitler left the yard in center moments later.
Kelly and Coppedge were each 2-for-3 to pace Central (17-6), and produced their team’s lone tally in the fourth. Abbie Mendenhall doubled while Millie McDowell and Hulsey each singled.
Izzy Basler restored an 8-1 difference in the sixth with her second double, and Julia Koetting capped the scoring with an RBI single in the seventh.
Central made solid contact three times in the home half to no avail against Huber, who had previously worked around two runners in the fifth and sixth frames.
Ste. Genevieve must take down the No. 1 team in the current rankings to break through to the state playoffs. Just like the Dragons, Potosi has yet to secure a district softball banner.
The Central lineup experienced a significant makeover entering this season after losing five starters and the availability of captain and all-state pitcher Kimmy Wallen due to offseason knee surgery.
Her collegiate career will begin next year at Southeast Missouri State. Her father, Bryan Wallen, is also departing after six seasons in his second stint as Central head coach.
Kelly threw effectively over four innings of relief, yielding two runs on three hits while fanning four. She was helped by a tremendous sliding catch in right field by senior Becca Voyles in the sixth.