Pitcher Kate Reifsteck allowed fewer than a run a game to help the Mattoon Pride 03 capture the USSSA 18-under national softball championship held in Gulf Shores, Alabama this past week.
The Pride went 6-1 overall in the tournament, outscoring opponents 36-18.
Reifstock was named the tournament’s pitching MVP after posting a 0.80 earned-run average across 17.1 innings in which she struck out 14 batters. She allowed only two runs.
“Kate overpowered every batter she faced,” said Mattoon Pride head coach Jay Hopper.
In the championship game, Ashlynn McPeak drilled a two-run double with the bases loaded in the fourth inning Friday to lift the Pride past the Indiana Shockwaves, 2-1. In three prior games, the Shockwaves had outscored their opponents 34-7.
These two teams had faced off the night before in another tight game. The Shockwaves took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a two-out single that scored a runner from second base.
Mattoon Pride scored twice in the third after Reifsteck led off with a walk. Hannah Hopper sacrificed pinch-runner Lex Davison to second base, and she subsequently reached third on a passed ball. Carson Cole then walked and continued to second base, prompting the Shockwaves to lose sight of Davison, who scored from third. Cole later stole third base and scored on a squeeze bunt by KJ Weller, making it 2-1.
Emily Price’s solo home run made it 3-1.
Reifsteck shut down the Shockwaves the rest of the way. In two games, Reifsteck held Indiana to two runs.
“Once Kate had a lead,” said Hopper, “it was over.”
The Shockwaves were sent to the losers bracket, forced to win three in a row to reach the championship for the re-match. The Shockwaves had routed the Pride, 13-2, in an opening-round game a few days earlier.
This same Pride team had traveled to Gulf Shores two years ago, said Hopper, to win their age-group title in this same tournament as 14 year olds.