St. Anthony softball defeats Casey-Westfield to advance to super-sectionals

·3 min read

Jun. 11—History keeps on continuing for the St. Anthony softball team in 2021.

After advancing to the sectional finals for the first time in eight years on Tuesday, the Bulldogs one-upped themselves on Thursday, defeating Casey-Westfield in 10 innings, 6-2, to earn the Class 1A sectional championship. The win moves St. Anthony to the super-sectionals on Monday at Johnston City, where they take on Marissa at 2 p.m.

"I'm honestly speechless right now," St. Anthony head coach Makayla Walsh said. "It was funny because even before this game, the girls were out here and were like, 'We're going to play for you today.' I was in this situation in 2013, and they were like, 'We're doing this for you. We're doing this for your team.' That's what it's all about; these girls are so compassionate about No. 1, the game, and No. 2, the history behind it. They don't forget about the legacy, and they're trying to move it on. We're trying to attack each situation."

When it gets to this point in the season, challenges arise, and for the Bulldogs, they faced that challenge Thursday afternoon.

Striking first in the bottom of the second, Casey-Westfield starting pitcher Paige Cutright helped herself at the plate, leading off the inning with a double.

Lexi McDaniel then flew out but, in the process, hit the ball deep enough for courtesy runner Emma Mason to tag from second and advance to third. Mason later scored when Addie Squires hit a sacrifice fly to center field to give the Warriors a 1-0 lead — a lead that stayed the same for the next three innings.

Heading into the sixth, and the Bulldogs found themselves with their backs against the wall. Chances were dwindling.

St. Anthony knew it had to strike, and they did.

Haley Niebrugge led off the sixth frame with a walk.

Lucy Fearday then reached on a single, and both her and Niebrugge moved up one base after Maddie Kibler laid down a sacrifice bunt.

The Bulldogs had something brewing with only one out.

On the very next offering from Cutright, though, Sydney Kibler hit the ball right back to her, allowing the Warriors' hurler to complete the force out at home for the second out of the frame.

However, during that same sequence, the Casey-Westfield third baseman committed an error which allowed Fearday to round third and score the game-tying run.

During the early stages of the game, scoring was at a premium. But, once the 10th inning rolled around, St. Anthony put a crooked number on the board that Casey-Westfield couldn't come back from in the end.

Cameron Rios led off the 10th frame with a single.

Then, Addie Wernsing reached on an error before both runners advanced into scoring position on a double steal.

With Rios standing at third and home plate and the lead insight, she knew what she had to do if the ball was in play.

"You have to run fast," Rios said. "You have to get there no matter what. We kept saying all game, 'Whatever it takes.'"

She did just that, as Niebrugge laid down a bunt on a squeeze play, scoring Rios and giving St. Anthony a 2-1 lead.

"I've known Paige since we were 12, so I know where she pitches, and I had so much confidence in Hailey on the squeeze play because she bunts very well," Rios said.

St. Anthony wound up pushing across four more runs after that to take a 6-1 cushion into the bottom of the frame.

Three outs were separating the Bulldogs from a sectional championship, and once Rios squeezed the ball for the final out, tears followed.

"They were crying. She [Walsh] said, 'We did it. We made school history,'" Rios said.

Contact EDN Sports Editor Alex Wallner at 217-347-7151 ext. 124 or alex.wallner@effinghamdailynews.com

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