A berth for the Sweet 16 has Ashlyn McPeak excited.
After taking down Mattoon to take the Regional Championship, Charleston will return to its home field with a berth for the Sectional Championship on the line. Waterloo, 4-2 winners over Mount Vernon, travels to Charleston for today’s Sectional semifinal — and players are excited for the opportunity.
“It’s always nice to have the opportunity to do big things on your home field,” said McPeak. “It makes it that much more special. It means a lot since the whole team has put in so much hard work this season.”
Waterloo enters the Sectional with a 16-10 overall record that includes a 6-3 mark in the Mississippi Valley Conference. While the record may not be glamorous, McPeak and her teammates will take the approach that has worked for the 24-3 squad all year.
One game at a time.
“The mindset has always been one game at a time and that is not going to change for this game,” said McPeak. “We go into every game playing our game. The team is excited and ready to go for tomorrow.”
Waterloo’s offense is headlined by senior Jane Kaniecki, who owns a batting average of .594 on the season with 41 hits, 32 runs batted in, nine doubles, seven triples, and five home runs. Kaniecki is tied with Tessa Stokes for the lead in home runs at five. Stokes has 25 RBIs and a .403 batting average.
Maddie Davis adds a .460 batting average while Taylor Wilson is hitting .428. The team’s batting average is .359, making this one of the most potent offenses that expected starter Karah Moore will have seen this season.
“Waterloo is a very good hitting team with two excellent pitchers,” said CHS coach Blain Mayhall. “We will have to stay strong at the plate, make plays in the field, and control the game in the circle. Right now, we are worried about tomorrow’s game. If we find ourselves playing again after Tuesday, then we will worry about that then.”
The pitching tandem that headlines Waterloo features a senior-freshman duo. Senior Ashley Steinhardt owns a 4-4 record with 51 innings pitched. However, there’s a good chance that the start could go to the freshman Mia Miller, who has a team-best 2.56 earned run average in 57.1 innings and 67 strikeouts.
Charleston will counter with Moore, who is a 18-0 on the season with 125 innings pitched, 1.62 earned run average and 103 strikeouts.
“We are excited to still be playing at this juncture of the season,” said Mayhall. “All the teams that are left are there for a reason. We are focusing on continued consistency with all aspects of the game. We have to do our thing and do it well to enable us to move on to the next round. We can’t just be happy to be here. There is no time to become complacent at this stage of the postseason. Our focus is controlling what we do well and giving ourselves a chance to win at the end of the game.”
Who: Charleston vs. Waterloo
Records: Charleston (24-3) vs. Waterloo (13-10)
Where: Karen Karch Field
Waterloo Players to Watch: Jane Kaniecki (senior first baseman), Tessa Stokes (junior second baseman), Taylor Wilson (senior shortstop), Mia Miller (freshman pitcher)
Game 1 at 4:30 pm: (2) Highland at (1) Marion (H.S.)
Game 2 at 4:30 pm: (3) Waterloo (H.S.) at (1) Charleston
Thu., Jun. 10
Game 3 at 4:30 pm: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2