JUDA — Black Hawk head coach Jim Baumgartner knew his Warriors would have their hands full heading into Wednesday’s WIAA Division 4 regional semifinal softball game against Juda/Albany.
After all, the #2-ranked Panthers (22-5) entered the playoffs as the top-seeded team in the 14-team sectional bracket after breezing through the Six Rivers East for the second year in a row with an unbeaten record and with high hopes of earning their second straight state berth.
The co-op performed as advertised on Wednesday, pounding out 13 hits en route to an 11-1 victory over the #8-seeded Lady Warriors at Juda’s Community Park on May 25.
“They are the real deal. They hit the crap out of the ball. Their pitcher/catcher combo is awesome and they were making major league plays in the infield,” said Coach Baumgartner.
The Panthers scored twice in the second and twice more in the third to take a 4-0 lead, but the Warriors (11-9) came up with a run in the top of the fourth to stay in the game at 4-1.
J/A answered back with five runs in the bottom of the fourth thanks to back-to-back home runs from Jessica Crull and Sara Jordan, and then put the game away by the 10-run rule with two more runs in the sixth.
Sophomore Nicki Becker tossed a two-hitter yielding an unearned run with seven strikeouts and no walks to lead the Panthers, who went on to claim the regional title with a 2-1 walkoff victory over Highland on Friday, May 27.
Sammy Lovelace and Brooke Moore each singled to lead the Warriors.
Playing in their final prep game for the Warriors were seniors Tatum Jackson, Brooke Moore, Abby Baumgartner, Rachel Ritschard, Aleigha Sigafus and Katie Rose
“Our seniors were the leaders in turning our program back around this year. They will surely be missed next year, but their efforts have given the program life that will be carried on for awhile,” noted Baumgartner. “The future of Black Hawk softball looks really good. I think we gained a lot of respect from other teams this year.”
The Lady Warriors advanced to the semifinal game by knocking off #9-seeded Fennimore, 4-3, in a regional quarterfinal game in South Wayne on Tuesday, May 24.
Hannah Herbst reached on an error and scored on another to put Black Hawk ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning; and, after the Golden Eagles tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the second, she scored again on Moore’s two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the frame to put the hosts up 4-1.
Lauren Schultz also singled in Lovelace in the second and scored on Moore’s two-bagger.
Senior pitcher Rachel Ritschard (11-8) held the Eagles in check until the sixth when her counterpart, Whitney Winkers, blasted a solo home run to cut the deficit to 4-2. The guests added a run in the seventh and had the tying run in scoring position, but Ritschard used a strikeout and a fly out in the infield to secure the playoff victory.
Ritschard allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits with seven Ks and a walks.
At the plate, Moore and Tatum Jackson each doubled to lead the Warriors’ four-hit attack.
“What a great way for our seniors to end their high school career at home with a big close win,” Coach Baumgartner said. “We didn’t get a lot of hits, but the ones we did were sure big.”
WIAA D4 REGIONAL SEMIFINAL
Black Hawk…. 000 100 – 1 2 4
Juda/Albany… 022 502 – 11 13 2
Leading Hitters: Brooke Moore 1x3, Sammy Lovelace 1x2.
WP- Becker. LP- Rachel Ritschard.
At Juda, on Wednesday, May 25
WIAA D4 REGIONAL QUARTERFINAL
Fennimore….. 010 001 1 – 3 4 4
Black Hawk… 130 000 x – 4 4 1
Leading Hitters: 2B– Brooke Moore, Tatum Jackson.
WP- Rachel Ritschard. LP- Winkers.
At South Wayne, on Tuesday, May 24
WP......Becker...6 ip....1 hit......7 SO....0 BB....0 ER
LP.......Ritschard......5 ip.......13 hits........5 SO.....1 BB......8 ER
They are the real deal ! They hit the crap out of the ball ! Their pitcher/catcher combo is awesome and they were making major league plays in the infield. We finished the season with an 11-9 regular season and 8-7 conference record. Our seniors were the leaders in turning our program back around this year. They will surely be missed next year but their efforts have given the program life that will be carried on for a while. The future of Black Hawk softball looks really good. I think we gained a lot of respect from other teams this year.
WP....Ritschard....7 ip....4 hits...7 SO...1 BB...2 ER
LP.....Winkers.....6 ip....4 Hits.....2 SO....1 BB.....2 ER
BH.....Moore 2b .. 2 rbi
Herbst 2 runs
Fennimore....W Winkers..2/3 HR
Great way for our seniors to end their high school career at home with a big close win !
We didn’t get alot of hits but the ones we did were sure big. Herbst got us started in the first by reaching on an error to right to start the game then got to second on a passed ball, stole third then home. She’s been manufacturing runs like that all year. Schultz had a key rbi single to left then scored on Moore’s huge 2 out double that scored two in the second. We are going into tomorrow’s game with nothing to lose. Juda / Albany is ranked 2 in the state for a reason. We are going to play hard and see what happens.
Tatum Jackson, Brooke Moore, Abby Baumgartner, Rachel Ritschard, Aleigha Sigafus and Katie Rose