Waterloo wins D-III district championship
By ERIC FORTUNE
Just as it did on Monday, Waterloo softball staged a late rally in the sixth inning to upend second-seeded Springfield 3-2 in a Division III district final Wednesday.
“We knew the sixth inning was critical,” Springfield coach Bill Amero said. “I talked to our pitcher and catcher before the inning. They had the top of the order up and we wanted to get through them with no damage. The bad thing is that everything happened with two outs. When you get two outs, you got to close it.”
Jacqueline Kish was coasting along until that point scattering three hits over the first five innings.
The sixth inning looked to be much of the same after Kish got Brooke Twichell and Kerrie More to fly out and ground out to start the inning. A walk to Amber Cieplinski was followed by an single to left from Machayla Kehrer. With runners at first and second, Memory Lyons’ double to deep left tied the game at 2.
“That was huge for her, to come through in the clutch when she’s struggled in the last couple of games,” Waterloo coach Brenda Flarida said. “She’s so capable of that, but for her to come up with that hit, that was huge.”
After a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth, the Vikings started the top half of the seventh with a Alyssa May infield single. Two batters later, Stephanie Misock’s single to left put runners at first and second. On a 2-2 pitch, Twichell hit a flare up the middle.
Makenzy Capouellez couldn’t field it cleanly and her throw to home was just late as the Vikings (17-3) took the lead at 3-2.
Lyons went 2 for 3 with two RBIs and Twichell went 2 for 4 with an RBI to lead Waterloo.
Kehrer pitched a 1-2-3 seventh as she surrendered just one hit for the game with four strikeouts.
“She’s thrown a lot in the last week and a half,” Flarida said. “This was a pretty gutsy performance because she was hurting a little bit. For her to dig deep today and pitch the way she did, I can’t say enough about her.”
Kehrer’s command was on all game, but it was the first inning where she was a bit shaky and gave up two runs. She slowed down the Tigers (20-4) from there.
After an eight-pitch walk to Capouellez, Mya Dusky reached on a throwing error from her bunt. Capoullez scored as Dusky reached third. After a striekout, Cassie Bacon’s bunt produced the second run of the game.
Kehrer was able to get a groundout and then a strikeout to end the inning as the Tigers had that early 2-0 lead despite not hitting a ball out of the infield.
“We were just trying to make things happen, to force the issue,” Amero said.
“I think we did a good job. Unfortunately, we didn’t hit well the rest of the game. I think that was the telling factor. We had Jackie out there pitching a good game. After the first inning, we just didn’t give her any support. You have to take your hat off to the other pitcher. She did her job too and kept us off balance. We had her on the ropes in the first inning and we just didn’t capitalize from then on.”
Kehrer threw 24 pitches in the first inning and just 58 over the next six innings.
Waterloo had rallied to beat South Range 4-3 in a district semifinal Monday.