PRINCETON — The top two teams in the TRAC East softball ranks met for the second time in four days at Little Siberia, and the result was the same as the first, just not as long.
The St. Bede Lady Bruins strengthened their stronghold on top of the league by defeating Princeton 3-1. The win improved the Lady Bruins (8-3) to 7-1 in league play with the Tigresses (9-3) falling to 4-2.
“That probably puts us atop the conference. Anytime you can get a conference win, it’s good. Anytime you can get a win, it’s good,” SBA coach Rob Ruppert said.
The Lady Bruins used their bats and legs to take the lead with two runs in the top of the fourth.
Hayley Short reached by error to lead off the fourth, and Abbie May singled. Ruppert inserted Kassidy Brady to run for Short and Caroline Moskelwicz to run for May. Ellyn Nowakowski dropped down a sac bunt to move the runners up, and both scooted home on a hit by Addi Lee to put the Lady Bruins ahead for good at 2-1.
“It obviously gives us a lot more speed on the bases, which in turn puts more pressure on the defense to make a play. Also with base runners on, the batter may see some more hittable pitches,” Ruppert said. “We like to keep putting pressure on the defense by being aggressive on the base paths. We talk about that all the time. And it worked to our advantage again.”
May gave herself a little more wiggle room by lining a hit off the glove of PHS third baseman McKenzie Hecht to extend the Lady Bruins’ lead to 3-1.
The Lady Bruins set the side down in order in the bottom of the seventh and walked away with sole possession of first place in the conference.
“Another good battle. Again we had timely hits tonight and scored a couple runs when we needed to,” Ruppert said. “It was nice to get that third run at the end and put a little insurance on the board. The girls played well again tonight. I liked our effort.”
With half their conference schedule remaining, the Tigresses will need some help along the way to catch the Lady Bruins in the league standings.
“We’ll take them one game at time and deal with it when we get to it,” PHS coach Joe Bates said.
The Tigresses drew first blood in their first at-bat with Kendra Cain singling and Lexie Alt adding a two-out, RBI double give the Tigresses an early 1-0 lead.
PHS really only threatened once more when Katie Bauer and Hannah Muehlschlegel singled after one out. May and the Lady Bruins got out of trouble when Hecht grounded out to the third; that came after an umpire huddle when it appeared the throw may have pulled first baseman Gianna Elias’ foot off the bag.
May improved to 4-1 on the season, scattering six hits and two walks with six strikeouts. She appeared to be mixing a changeup with her trademark riseball more than in Tuesday’s game.
“She was good the other day, but she was even better today. Her riseball was a lot more difficult to deal with today,” Bates said. “We had some hits, but just couldn’t string them together.”
Freshman Kate Bates (4-3) took the loss for PHS, allowing eight hits, two walks and striking out six.
• Notes: SBA catcher Charleigh Homes, the hero of Tuesday’s 2-1 Lady Bruin victory with a walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth, came away with a chipped tooth and bloody lip after a collision with the third baseman on a foul pop. Ruppert said he thought she’d be OK because “she’s a tough kid.”