CARTERVILLE — Baleigh Koester put herself in quite the predicament when she loaded the bases with nobody out in the final inning of a one-run game against Pinckneyville on Tuesday afternoon.
But the Carterville senior persevered and recorded three straight outs to help the Lions hold off the Panthers, 3-2, in SIRR Mississippi Division prep softball.
Mayci Doerflein, Megan Mayo, and Kiya Hagene all reached base on two hits and a walk. But Carterville shortstop Megan Barrett fielded a ground ball and threw home for the first out.
Koester followed that up with a pair of strikeouts to seal the deal for Carterville (10-3, 5-0).
“We think Baleigh is one of if not the best pitcher in 2A,” said Carterville coach Will Capie. “When you have those situations, we’re confident the entire time that Baleigh can get out of them because of her stuff and her velocity.”
Koester allowed five hits and recorded 10 strikeouts in the game. Mariah Clark pitched well for Pinckneyville, too.
Clark’s only rough inning was the first one. Barrett hit a double, and Montana Taylor smoked an RBI triple to right center field. Sydney Monje added a sacrifice fly to give the Lions a 2-0 edge.
The Panthers got it back in the fourth inning. Clark took a walk to begin the frame, and Josie Gleason smashed a two-run homer to dead center to knot the contest, 2-2.
“She just takes such good at-bats,” Pinckneyville coach Alan Engelhardt said of Gleason. “That’s a two-strike home run she hit. When you take tremendous at-bats, good things happen. She’s done a tremendous job driving in runs.”
Gleason took a leadoff walk in the second inning. Haleigh Kling, the courtesy runner, wound up at third base with no outs after a wild pitch and passed ball. But the Panthers were unable to get a run in that frame as well.
“We’ve got to use this as a learning experience,” Engelhardt said. “To be honest, most of the time we’re the ones on top and not having to come through in those situations. So, it’s a learning thing.”
Perhaps the biggest hit of the game for Carterville came off the bat of McKenzie Rogman in the fifth inning. The sophomore belted a double into right field to lead off the frame. She later scored on an error, which turned out to be the game-winning run.
“Rogman has been close all year, and we’ve noticed the last couple weeks that she’s really starting to make solid contact,” Capie said. “She started 30 games as a freshman and came in to make two fantastic plays in the state semifinal and state championship game. She’s a seasoned vet, and she’s only halfway into her sophomore season.”
Clark struck out eight batters and gave up just two earned runs for the Panthers (11-5, 3-1).