MOUNT BLANCHARD Arlington head coach Gregg Feller tried to crank up the pitching machine in the last week trying to prepare his team to face Mohawk hurler Kasey Adelsperger on Thursday in the Division IV sectional final at Riverdale High School.
When reviewing his team's performance against Adelsperger, all he could do was shake his head in disbelief.
Part of the problem, the sophomore flamethrower's changeup is faster than most pitchers' fastball. When Adelsperger did throw her changeup, Arlington's bats were able to get enough of a piece to hit the ball into right field and make some things happen.
So Mohawk coach Jenny Weinandy, who calls the team's pitches, decided to retire the off-speed pitch and stick with the heater.
And the heater was good enough to strike out the Red Devils nine times as Mohawk cruised to a 7-4 victory.
"That pitcher, and we've faced some really good pitchers over the season, but nobody that throws that hard," Feller said. "She's pretty darn quick. I don't know what her speed is. We just couldn't catch up with it. A couple of girls hit her hard but just not enough batters in a row to make anything happen."
Division IV at Riverdale
Mohawk 7, Arlington 4
Mohawk (19-4): Sarah Runion 1-3-0-0; Ashley Cooper 3-2-0-0; Taylor McClain 4-2-3-2; Kasey Adelsperger 4-0-2-3; Brooke Weininger 0-0-0-0; Dani Tyree 4-0-1-0; Nikki Kieffer 3-0-0-0; Brooke Weinandy 0-0-0-0; Molli Cartwright 4-0-0-0; Clara Adelsperger 3-0-0; Mackenzie Sowers 3-0-0-0; Charlotte Moes 0-0-0-0. Totals 29-7-6-5.
Arlington (18-4): Hannah Johnson 3-1-0-0; Jessica Hunter 4-0-1-0; Shiloh Thompson 4-0-0-1; Abby Solt 0-0-0-0; Morgan Insley 4-0-0-0; Dani Heaster 3-1-1-0; Peyton Ostheimer 0-1-0-0; Kathryn Jolliff 3-0-2-2; Erica O'Rear 2-0-0-0; Jordyn Webb 1-0-0-0; Elisabeth Helms 2-1-0-0. Totals 26-4-4-3.
WP: K. Adelsperger (13-4); LP: Rachel Helms (16-3).
3B: Jolliff (A).
2B: K. Adelsperger (M).
Adelsperger (12-4) allowed just four hits, walked three and hit a batter. Between that and three errors, Arlington was able to put enough together to keep the game interesting.
"I would put that in the ugly win column, if there was one," Weinandy said. "We let the tournament monkey jump on our back a little bit. We let the tournament play us rather than playing the game. We didn't play well overall."
While Adelsperger left Arlington batters dazed, Weinandy said her ace wasn't even at her best.
"When we played them before, I think she had like 13 strikeouts," Weinandy said. "But I didn't feel that Kasey was on her A-game today. She wasn't hitting her spots. But it worked. She needs to get refocused and pitch like she does with Dani (Tyree) in practice."
The Red Devils (18-4) plated one in the second to take an early lead but Mohawk scored two in the third when Taylor McClain smacked an RBI single, followed by an RBI double from Adelsperger, making Arlington hurler Rachel Helms (16-3) pay for her pair of walks to open the inning.
Arlington tied it at 2 in the bottom of the fourth but Mohawk came back the next inning and made 4-2. Sarah Runion, who walked three times, reached second on McClain's single and scored on an RBI single from Adelsperger. McClain came into score on an error.
In the top of the seventh, Mohawk gave itself some insurance with three more runs. Runion walked again and Ashley Cooper reached on an error. An RBI single from McClain scored Runion, and Cooper was right behind her courtesy of another Arlington throwing error. Adelsperger scored McClain hitting into a fielder's choice to give Mohawk a 7-2 lead.
After a strikeout to open the inning, Arlington put Elisabeth Helms and Hannah Johnson on the basepaths with a walk and a fielder's choice. Jessica Hunter reached on an error, allowing Helms to score and cut the lead to 7-3. Shiloh Thompson hit into an easy out but the throw went home to try to nail Johnson but was not in time, leaving two on and the tying run at the plate in cleanup hitter Morgan Insley. The slugger scorched a liner to Runion at shortstop, who speared it and then rifled a throw to third to double off Hunter and end the game.
"Two really good teams and it was a really fun game to coach and watch. It just didn't turn out like I thought it would," Feller said. "I thought we'd get a little revenge and it didn't work out that way."
Arlington's fielding, normally a bright spot, committed six errors in the game, all by infielders.
"Our infield has been pretty solid most of the year and they did hit the ball pretty hard. I'm not sure I could have stopped some of them," Feller said. "I think it gets in your head after one or two errors."
Arlington's Kathryn Jolliff had the most success against Adelperger, collecting two hits, a triple and a single, driving in a run with each hit.
McClain had three singles with two RBI. Adelsperger had a double, a single and drove in three. Dani Tyree had Mohawk's other hit.
"I thought we had a few good hard hits and we pulled it off but I'm not pleased with our performance," Weinandy said. "I'm glad we won. Arlington is an excellent team defensively and I knew coming in that would be a factor."
Mohawk moves on to face McComb at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Findlay High School in the district semifinal.