By J.W. Campbell, Sportswriter
Winning their sixth game in a row, the Triad softball team improved to 15-5 for the year and 5-1 in the Mississippi Valley Conference on Monday, April 29 when they defeated the Jerseyville Panthers 9-8 at Triad High School. With the win, the Lady Knights move into sole possession of first place in the Mississippi Valley after Highland (4-2) lost to Waterloo on Monday.
Although things ended well for Triad against Jerseyville, the early stages of the game were rocky for the Lady Knights as Jerseyville scored five times in the first and once again in the second to take a 6-0 edge after an inning and a half.
In the first, Jerseyville scored three times before an out was recorded. Brooke Tuttle started the frame with a lead-off single to center, A Triad error help Melissa Weishaupt reach base ahead of Lauren Brown, who launched a ball over the left field wall for a three-run homer.
With two outs in the inning, Claire Anderson reached on a infield hit ahead of a single to center by Ryleigh Jones. Both runners scored when Emma Plasmeier double to right.
In the top of the second, an infield hit by Weishaupt, a single by Brown, a wild pitch and a Triad error produced another Jerseyville run.
Triad got on the board in the bottom of the second when Dallas Zirkelbach singled and scored on a home run to left center by Shiane Taylor, making it a 6-2 contest.
Triad narrowed the gap to 6-4 in the third when Liz Young blasted a two-run homer over the left-field fence. Preceding the home run was a single by Caroline Lehan.
A two-run single by Chelsea Maag gave Jerseyville an 8-4 lead in the fifth. Plasmeier and Sydney Gillis, both singled and scored on the Maag base hit.
Once again, Triad narrowed the lead to two runs via the home run ball. In the bottom of the fifth, Taylor reached on an infield hit and scored on a homer by Isabelle Lehan.
Triad tied the game at 8-8 in the bottom of the sixth when Payton Bode was hit by a pitch and scored on a home to center off the bat of Young. It was her fourth home run in the last two games.
The Lady Knights recorded the walk-off win in the bottom of the seventh when a walk and two Triad safeties loaded the bases for Jenna Bohnenstiehl with one out. Bohnenstiehl hit a hard grounder that the Jerseyville second baseman booted as the winning run scored.
“I’m really glad that we put all of hits together and came out on top,” Triad shortstop Dallas Zirkelbach said. “When we were down 6-0, I knew we could come back because the last time we played them, we got down and came back. That time, I think we were down 3-0 at one point. We made it a little deeper hole this time.”
“We were a little discombobulated at the start,” Triad Coach Kris Kleeman said. “We didn’t have Kailey Daniel out there, today. She had her appendix removed in an emergency surgery around 2 o’clock, today. “That left us a little shaken.
“We got down real quick, but we did a nice job of chipping away until we came all the way back.”
Triad’s four, two-run homers in the game were part of an 11-hit attack that featured a three-hit day by Taylor and two-hit performances by Sydney Wildhaber, Young and Zirkelbach. Young drove in four runs with her pair of homers, while Isabelle Lehan and Taylor each had a homer and two runs batted in.
Jerseyville got a pair of hits and four runs batted in by Brown, Plasmeier drove in two runners with a 3-for-3 day and Maag had two runs batted in while going 2-for-5.
Despite being touched up for 14 hits, Young went the distance for the win. Of the eight runs allowed, only four were earned. She fanned eight Jerseyville hitters and did not issue a walk.
Shelby Koenig was the losing pitcher for Jerseyville. She went three innings in relief, allowing three runs on four hits. The Panther starter was Claire Anderson, who allowed six runs on seven hits and two walks. She had three strike outs.
For the Lady Knights, it was the second walk-off win in their last two games. On Friday, April 26, Triad beat the O’Fallon Panthers 6-4.
Young was the hitting and pitching star for the Lady Knights. She went 2-for-4 at the plate with four RBIs, including a walk-off, two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh. A walk to Kailey Daniel preceded the round tripper. It was her second of the night for Young.
Ella Moore had a hit and an RBI for the Knights, while Daniel had two safeties and a run scored in the game. Taylor went 1-for-2 with a run scored.
“Our girls have been working really hard on their hitting,” Kleeman said. “When it rains we go inside and hit. We just try to do things right and see the ball well. I just think that right now, we have several girls that are seeing the ball well.”
After six innings of play, Triad led 4-2 before O’Fallon scored twice in the top of the seventh to briefly tie the game at 4-4.
In the pitching circle, Young went the distance, allowing three earned runs on 10 hits and three walks. She fanned nine Panthers.
O’Fallon got two hits each from Miley Brunner, Maya Robinson, Courtney Settles and Kelly Short.
Hayley Juenger was the losing pitcher for O’Fallon. She gave up five earned runs on eight hits and no walks. She had eight strike outs in the game.
Triad was slated to face Metro-East Lutheran in Edwardsville on Tuesday, April 30 and Waterloo in Waterloo on May 1. Results of those games were not available at press time.
On Monday, May 6, the Lady Knights are scheduled to travel to Mascoutah for an MVC game. Then on Wednesday, May 8, the team hosts Highland in a league contest.
“Right now, we’ve got our eye on conference,” Kleeman said. “We have to win out if we want to win another conference title.”