Tuscola’s softball team clinched their third straight league crown this past Thursday night on the road at Macon Meridian. The Lady Warriors upended the first place Lady Hawks two weeks ago to set up the championship showdown.
The Lady Hawks chipped away early in the contest, building a five-run lead entering the top of the sixth on top 5-0. It was not enough, however, as the ladies in black and gold stormed back to take the lead and ultimately secured the program’s third consecutive Central Illinois Conference championship in extra innings. The win was thanks to a solo homerun by Isabelle Shelmadine in the top of the eighth and a quick 1, 2, 3 inning in the bottom half for the Hawks.
Ashton Smith had the pill for Tuscola. The junior gave up a run in each of the first three frames before giving way to Kaitlyn Reifsteck. The two combined to scatter 11 hits and three walks out over eight innings of action while striking out three. Meridian pushed another pair across in the fifth before the Warriors finally broke through with a run in the top of the sixth.
Jackie Watson started the offense in the frame with a single but was caught on fielder’s choice by Allison Clark who moved to second on a single by Alexis Koester and scored on a base knock by Reifsteck making it 5-1 Hawks. Smith got the ball rolling with a lead off walk but was caught on fielder’s choice. Shelmadine followed with a single, moved on a bunt by Kendyl Ring, and scored on a double by Watson that rattled the bottom of the fence. Clark followed with a double of her own then scored on a double by Koester, who trotted home on a double by Ashtyn Clark. Reifsteck then doubled as well pushing in Kyra Moyer, who was running for Clark and setting the table for an RBI single by Claire Ring as the Warriors put six on the board to take a 7-5 lead entering the final half frame.
Meridian answered with a pair of three hits and a walk forcing the extra frame. Shelmadine lit the candles with a blast over the left field fence to put the Warriors on top for good in the eighth. Reifsteck induced three fly balls, and Sydney Watson and Abbey Jacobs gobbled them up securing the win and the title as the Warriors end a very tough CIC campaign with an 11-3 record.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, May 16 edition of The Tuscola Journal.