St. Bede 1A Regional: St. Bede 3, Earlville-Leland 0
PERU — ’Tis sweet to repeat.
The St. Bede Lady Bruins are once again softball regional champions, this time in 1A, by defeating the Earlville-Leland Red Raiders 3-0 on their home turf, “Tower Field” at the Academy Friday afternoon.
“We put it all together today,” Lady Bruins coach Rob Ruppert said. “Pitching, we got some timely hits, we got some big hits. We thought all year we’d be a power hitting team, we got a couple and that kept us rollin’.”
Leading the charge for St. Bede (16-8) was pitcher Abbie May, who, with a familiar look of determination on her face all seven innings, struck out 17 of the 24 Red Raider batters she faced at the plate, with only one hit and no walks.
“You know, that’s the Abbie we know, that’s the Abbie we had last year,” Ruppert said. “She brought her A-game today, hit her spots, threw the ball well. I saw it when she warmed up, she wanted it.”
Earlville-Leland (15-4) saw it too, as May struck them out in order during the first two innings, and two out of three in the third.
In typical understated fashion, May would only say, “I was just hitting my spots. I was in the zone.”
While the defense took control right away, results from the St. Bede batters took a little bit longer. They loaded up the bases only to strand them in the first inning.
The second and third frames saw little improvement, partially due to a few fly balls taken in (including one diving catch) by E-L left fielder Amanda Meyers.
“They played a good game,” Ruppert said. “Their left fielder made that diving catch, their shortstop had a good game. We had two balls over the fence, and that was the difference of the game.”
The first of those two balls was hit in the fourth inning by sophomore Marissa Boehm (in place of Addie Lee) over the left-field fence to put St. Bede on the scoreboard first, 1-0.
“Actually, the last couple of games she (Lee) hasn’t been hitting,” Ruppert said. “Addie’s been struggling a little bit, so we decided to switch it up a little bit, and it paid off.”
The Lady Bruins’ next score was by senior Maggie Sons, as much of a threat as a base runner as she is a batter. Sons drew a walk in the fifth inning, made her way to third base, then was sent home on a sac fly by Gianna Elias to up the St. Bede lead to 2-0.
“I was just trying to get whatever I could for the team,” Sons said. “If that means taking third when no one’s there, get close as I can to home and get us on the board, some insurance runs.”
Another “insurance run” was delivered courtesy of Lady Bruins junior Hayley Short (1-3, 1 run, 1 RBI), who sent it over the left field fence in the fifth to bump the Lady Bruins’ advantage to 3-0.
“Well, it felt really solid, because I’ve been struggling quite a bit,” Short said. “And just to hit it very nice felt so-o-o-o good!”
May struck out the Red Raiders in order in the sixth inning, then two out of four batters in the seventh to nail down the Lady Bruins’ victory.
“Yeah, we were all ready for it,” Sons said. “We had a really long practice yesterday and brought all that energy in today.”
St. Bede will face Newark at the Shabbona Indian Creek Sectional at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. Newark also won its own regional, beating Aurora Christian, 12-2.
“We’re gonna come back to work,” Ruppert said. “And whoever we play is going to get a full dose of our lineup and our pitching.”
The Lady Bruins won the sectional championship last year in 2A, advancing to the Elite Eight.