Waterloo scored five unearned runs in the fourth inning, worked the counts at the plate and took advantage of five Charleston errors to win the IHSA Class 3A Sectional semifinal at Karen Karch Field on Tuesday, 9-2.
The Bulldogs (17-10) will next play the winner of today’s game between Marion-Highland in their first sectional final since 1989.
The Trojans ended their season 24-4, winners of the Apollo Conference and a regional.
Ahead 1-0, Waterloo broke the game open in the fourth when it loaded the bases on two singles and an error. Karah Moore then recorded one of her five strikeouts, but another error on a line drive allowed two runs to score. The Bulldogs added three more runs on three singles in the inning to make it 6-0.
Waterloo’s batters fouled off numerous pitches and worked the counts, forcing Moore to throw more pitches than she had in a regulation game all season. Five errors also extended several innings. As a result, the sophomore right-hander threw 123 pitches after having only thrown more than 100 pitches in a regulation game only twice this season – in late April when she needed 105 to beat Champaign Central and 103 in a win over St. Anthony.
Moore needed 159 pitches to beat Mt. Zion 7-6 in extra innings a month ago.
Charleston, meanwhile, rapped 12 hits in the game but hit into two double plays.
“We had good hits but they just didn’t come when we needed them,” Charleston senior shortstop Reagan McGahey said. “We had a lot of base hits with two outs and no one on. Kudos to her (Ashley Steinhardt). She shut us down.”
McGahey along with two other CHS seniors, Ashlynn McPeak and Ava Stephens, went 5-for-12 at the top of the order.
“To be leaders of this knucklehead group that we have that are all young, I’m extremely proud of that,” Charleston coach Blain Mayhall said. “I’m more proud of that than what they (seniors) do on the field. I know what they are going to do on the field on a daily basis. They are going to produce. And they continued to do that all year.”
McPeak, Stephens, Kailyn Wilson, Mikayla Lane and Addison Shrader each had two hits. But Steinhardt allowed only two extra-base hits, scattered hits and did not walk a batter.
“Her delivery is a little different,” Mayhall said. “Where she releases the ball is a little different. She didn’t throw the changeup all that much. There were about four or five popups, so I’m guessing the rise ball was working a little bit. Other than that, she must have been working it in and out. Her spin is a little different coming out.”