Mooney rolls into districts with blowout
Rutherford strong in sectional victory
By Charles Grove
District tournament appearance — check. Consider this season mission accomplished for the Cardinal Mooney softball team after Monday’s 8-1 win over Waterloo.
The win puts Mooney into the Division III district tournament, which is where head coach Mark Rinehart and his team want to be.
“We had the goal of making the district tournament and making some noise in there and that’s what we feel like our schedule had prepared us to do,” Rinehart said. “All the teams left in our district are outstanding teams with winning pedigrees and we’re glad to be a part of them.”
Junior pitcher Kayla Rutherford was outstanding, giving up no earned runs, striking out six, and allowing just two hits in the complete-game win.
The performance was impressive even before you factored in Waterloo’s 15-2 record entering the game and the power lineup the Vikings boasted. No. 3 hitter Amber Cieplinski and No. 4 hitter Machayla Kehrer had 17 and 10 home runs this season, respectively. The duo went a combined 0-for-6.
“All I heard about them was hit, hit hit hit,” Rinehart said. “And to shut them down and hold them to one run, that tells you a whole lot about what Kayla can do. She really put us on her shoulders.
Offensively, sophomore catcher Conchetta Rinaldi went 3-for-4, including a two-run home run to center field in the third inning. She also singled home Jordan McLay in the first inning on a hard-hit ball that went between the first baseman’s legs.
Her performance was well earned though. Rinaldi took a hard foul ball off the catcher’s mask in the early innings that left her dazed and had a hard collision with Waterloo first baseman Aubrey Foster on an RBI single in the fourth inning.
“She’s one of the biggest gamers I’ve coached here in 26 years,” Rinehart said. “You’re not going to get her out of the game unless there’s a broken limb.”
After Rinaldi’s RBI single in the first, Rutherford brought her home on a two-run home run the next at bat. Rinaldi’s homer in the third made it 5-0, giving the Cardinals (14-6) a comfortable cushion.
“After we got the big lead I knew we could accomplish anything,” Rinaldi said. “We’re a tough team.”
Rinaldi’s tumble at first brought home the sixth run and a sacrifice fly by Kelly Williams brought home Carly Francis to make it 7-0 after four.
C.J. Sapp scored the eighth run when Waterloo right fielder Kerrie More dropped a fly ball.
The lone Viking run came on a ground ball that looked to be a routine 6-3 groundout, but Bridget Sweeney’s throw went up the first base line and Lauren Frommelt’s attempt for the out was ruled to impede the runner’s progress.
The toughest test of the season likely looms for Mooney now as the Cardinals will face last year’s Division III state runner-up, South Range. But Rutherford said she likes the idea of being an underdog.
“No one expects you to win,” Rutherford said. “But we’re really hungry and we want to win it all and we’re going to play our hearts out. We’re a bunch of hungry dogs out there.”