Softball: St. Bede 18, Putnam County 3
PERU — Even with a lot of the same players as last year's sectional title winning team, the St. Bede Lady Bruins this season are, in the words of coach Rob Ruppert, "still finding their voice."
Wednesday, however, the Lady Bruins (2-3) sent a loud and clear message to all in an 18-3 four-inning win over the Putnam County Lady Panthers (1-3) in a non-conference matchup at the academy.
"We hit the ball really hard, which is a good sign," Ruppert said. "We'd been scuffling a little bit, so it was a good win for us."
Indeed, the St. Bede bats were so busy that if you took your eyes off of the diamond, you would miss seeing another Lady Bruin cross home plate.
"We told them to attack, go back to their fundamentals and hit the ball hard," Ruppert said. "Just be patient at the plate and look for your pitch."
Sophomore center fielder Addison Lee led the way for the St. Bede offense with three runs, three hits, and four RBI, while junior Ellyn Nowakowski (2B) contributed two runs, two hits, and three RBI.
Maggie Sons, Charleigh Holmes, Gianna Elias and Hayley Short also added to the Lady Bruins' scoring effort with two RBI each, while Maddie Mudge, Abbie May and Ryann Stoudt chipped in one RBI apiece.
St. Bede broke open the game with a nine-run second inning and closed it out with a six-run fourth.
The Lady Bruins were dominant on defense as well, with winning pitcher Hayley Short working all four innings, allowing four hits, three runs (two earned), and striking out seven.
"Shorty threw the ball well today, which we expected her to do," Ruppert said. "She struggled a bit in her first couple of outings, but it's early in the season, so hopefully she'll straighten it out.
"Our defense played pretty well. We made plays when we had to."
The Lady Panthers started the game with two quick hits by Linzee Fay and Morgan Hundley, but the side was retired just as quickly, followed by a three-up, three-down second inning.
"In that first inning we opened up with so much promise," Putnam County coach Angie Heiser said. "We had runners in scoring position right off the bat, we had some kids get some doubles and triples (during the game).
"Just the fact that my players kept trying and didn't get down on themselves and kept giving us effort was a huge bonus. It shows me they have a lot of fight and they won't give up."
The Lady Panthers got their first score in the third inning from an RBI single from Hundley to send Zofie Uzella home.
The highlight for the PC offense came when Megan Wiesbrock smacked a two-run homer over the center-field fence, sending Grace Ebel ahead of her across the plate.
"It felt really good, especially since the most I've hit so far was like a bunt and a fly-out to second," Wiesbrock said. "Otherwise, not much contact. I just wanted to crush it, stepped up there and thought 'okay, I'm gonna swing and swing hard'.
"We were kind of down a bit, then that happened out of the blue and that brought us all back together."
Even more noteworthy was that Wiesbrock and her team could have missed that moment together.
"Megan was a late addition to our team," Heiser said. "We were looking at a numbers problem (on the roster), maybe having to forfeit a couple of games, when she stepped up and said, 'Okay, I'll play.' She's here out of the goodness of her heart and trying very hard.
"I won't forget seeing that ball go over the fence, and I'm sure Megan and her teammates won't either."