Wildcats ride offensive outbreak into finals

CLYDE – For the first five innings of Mohawk’s Division III district semifinal against New London, Warrior pitcher Julie Adelsperger was unhittable. But, New London softball coach Peter Motolik said after the game that hitting is contagious. It may have taken six innings, but his team finally had an outbreak.

Motolik’s Wildcats entered the sixth inning with no hits off Adelsperger and trailing the Warriors 3-0. Ashley Parr led off the inning by finally getting one to sneak through the left side of Mohawk’s infield. The next three hitters all did the same, producing grounders that found holes on the way to the outfield.

Two runs had scored and two remained on base as Adelsperger got the next two hitters out on fielder’s choices, giving her team a chance to end the inning with its lead still intact.

But Taylor Parrott stepped up and delivered the game’s biggest hit, a two-run double to put her team up 4-3. Pitcher Alex Bowers made it hold up in the final two innings and the Wildcats brought an end to the Warriors’ season, moving on to Friday’s district final.

New London will meet Bucyrus 5 p.m. Friday.

“Keys to our winning was a lot of heart, a lot of confidence, a lot of belief in one another,” Motolik said. “This is a team through and through. … And when somebody was down, somebody picked them up with a hit or a bunt or we ran the bases. This is a team that I’m happy to be bringing back on Friday.”

Much like New London, Mohawk found it hard to get anything of Bowers early in the game. Mohawk didn’t get its first baserunner until Taylor McClain ripped a single to lead off the fourth inning. After a pair of strikeouts, Clara Adelsperger singled, then Hannah Kieffer reached on an error to score McClain and Adelsperger. Kasey Adelsperger followed with an RBI single to bring in Kieffer.

But the rest of the day, Mohawk only managed to have two more reach base off Bowers, both in the seventh inning, and both were left on base when the game’s final out was recorded.

“I thought once we started hitting and we had three runs I thought we’d relax more at the plate and pound it a little bit better than what we did or what we usually do, and it didn’t,” Mohawk coach Jenny Weinandy said. “My girls are strong enough that when they score one run, two runs, we’re used to having pressure. And we’ve been in games where it’s extra innings and we’ve been in these situations before and unfortunately it didn’t work our our way this time.”

Weinandy thought her team would be able to get more off Bowers, saying the Warriors had experience against similar pitchers throughout the season.

“Nothing anything special than what we’ve seen before,” Weinandy said when asked what made Bowers so effective. “That’s why I wasn’t too worried about it. Our bats just didn’t come through for us like it generally does. That’s the bottom line.”

Bowers gave up just the four hits and struck out 12.

Despite some great individual moments, Motolik preferred to praise the team effort rather than single out a handful of individuals.

“Outfield did a good job. Our hitters 1-9, I brought some JV players up and I got to take my hat off and give them some credit,” he said. “Alex, she gets a lot of credit on the mound, but the courtesy runner, (Alyssa) Hartman, my pinch runner (Cierra) Hudson, it’s a team. They did their job. To single anybody out would be a dis-justice to somebody. Because I’ve been preaching team all year long and we’re playing in the district finals.”

Julie Adelsperger kept the Wildcats hitless until the sixth when when New London finally got its bats going. For Motolik, it was a pair of freshman getting things going, with Parr starting things off and Kaitlyn Spiecher following.

“She doesn’t realize why she’s batting ninth, but she’s my second leadoff hitter,” Motolik said of Parr. “And she got the job done. And she’s a freshman. Then we followed up with our leadoff hitter who’s a freshman, Katie Spiecher, that came through with another hit. So two freshmen started this off. And it’s so contagious. Hitting’s contagious; winning’s contagious. I really don’t know what to say. I’m just happy for the girls. I’m happy for New London, the community, the school. The parents are supportive. It’s great. It’s a great thing. I love it.”

Despite the loss, Mohawk’s season isn’t over. The Warriors are scheduled to play today at Hopewell-Loudon where they’re looking to finish off an undefeated run through the Midland Athletic League, and the outright league title.