Girls Varsity Softball
Game Summaries & Headlines.
PREP SOFTBALL: No slugfest, but Piasa Birds hold off Redbirds, 5-3
No slugfest, but Birds hold off Alton
Greg Shashack, firstname.lastname@example.org
Greg Shashack / The Telegraph
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Alton shorstop Tami Wong (right) applies the tag on Southwestern’s Josie Bouillon, who his caught stealing in the fourth inning Saturday morning at Alton High in Godfrey.
GODFREY – It could not have been an easy admission for Southwestern junior Bailee Nixon.
“Our hitting,” she said, “has been what’s kept us in games.”
On Saturday morning, it was Nixon’s pitching that carried the Southwestern Piasa Birds to a 5-3 prep softball victory over the Alton Redbirds at Alton High.
Southwestern had five successive games rained out since beating Brussels 32-0 on March 26. And with the Birds’ home field in Piasa still unplayable, the date with the Redbirds was shifted to Godfrey and Southwestern pushed its record to 8-1 and its winning streak to seven in a row after going 11 days between games.
Alton had its four-game win streak snapped and drops to 8-3. Both teams had been thriving on offense, with Southwestern averaging 13.3 runs per game and the Redbirds scoring 9.9 runs a game.
But after the Birds broke fast with four runs in a four-hit first inning, Nixon and Alton starter Alyson Haegele were in command.
“Nixon came out on a mission today,” Southwestern coach Peg Mitchell said. “Nixon has a look. And when she as that look, I don’t worry about her pitching. She had that look today when she came into the dugout.”
Nixon limited the Redbirds to one run on three hits through six innings before the Alton threatened with two runs on three hits in the seventh. Abby Sullivan’s home run in the third inning accounted for the Redbirds’ first run.
“We’re going to have to make some adjustments at the plate,” Alton coach Dan Carter said. “We did not swing the bats very well today. We didn’t adjust to the strike zone. … We’ve got to do a better job of putting the ball in play. We had too many strikeouts today.”
Nixon struck out 10 and walked four in the complete-game win. She came in at 4-0 with a 1.83 ERA, but was expecting better.
“I’ve struggled a little bit in games this season,” Nixon said. “So it was definitely nice to get back to it. … It was a very good day.”
Southwestern hinted at a fifth straight game scoring in double digits when it came out with a flurry of line drives in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Mayci Wilderman lined a first-pitch shot to right field that was scored a three-base error and she came home on a throwing error to give the Birds an immediate lead they would not relinquish.
“That’s what this team does,” Mitchell said. “We’re aggressive at the plate. We’re aggressive on the bases. That’s what we have to do to win ballgames.”
The Birds tacked on singles from Molly Novack and Hannah Nixon before Josie Bouillon’s RBI single and Bailee Nixon’s two-run double put the Redbirds down 4-0 after one inning. Haegele would settle in to retire nine of the next 10 Birds she faced before Wilderman, who lined out hard to left in her previous at-bat, homered to lead off the fifth inning.
“Mayci’s been in a little bit of a slump,” Mitchell said. “But Wilderman is not going to stay in a slump very long.”
Haegele went five innings, allowing five runs (one earned) on five hits and one walk while striking out five.
“Alyson did a really nice job,” Carter said. “She gave us a good five innings. … The bottom line is, we just didn’t do anything offensively. We’ve been scoring runs and we didn’t today.”
Sullivan, a sophomore whose third homer ties Ashlyn Betz, Lynna Fischer and Tami Wong for the team lead, and Shelby Kulp both had two hits to lead the Redbirds. But Nixon disarmed the heart of the Redbirds lineup, with the Nos. 3-4-5 hitters combining to go 0-for-11 with four strikeouts. The three runs were the fewest in a game for Alton this season.
Despite the loss, Carter welcomed the test for his Redbirds. And if schedules allow, the Alton coach said he would embrace another opportunity to play Southwestern.
“If we get rainouts, we’d be glad to play them again,” Carter said. “We’re in each other’s backyard. You’re going to see good pitching, good defense and good hitting. Southwestern’s a quality team, very good.”