Waterloo head softball coach Matt Mason admits he is in uncharted territory with his team’s amazing 31-0 start.
The team set a new school record for softball wins in a season with its 30th win Wednesday at Highland, which also clinched the Mississippi Valley Conference title. The previous mark of 29 wins in a season was set by the 1989 team that advanced to the state tournament.
Kasey Bradley threw a no-hitter for the ‘Dogs.
“I’ve never been associated with any kind of streak like this before,” the first-year coach told the Republic-Times.
Bradley made it back-to-back no-hitters in a 9-0 win over Mascoutah on Thursday for the team’s 31st victory.
Mason prefers to keep the players focused on the next pitch, next at-bat and next game at hand rather than look too far ahead or behind.
“I’m sure we’ll all look back after the season and things will sink in at that point,” Mason said. “But our philosophy is that your next opponent is always your best opponent, so we take it game by game. We just want to get better every day.”
The Bulldogs seem to be doing just that, outscoring their opponents 40-4 in three recent wins heading into Tuesday’s senior night home game against Valmeyer.
Last Wednesday, Waterloo topped conference foe Civic Memorial, 11-1, in five innings.
Mallory Meyer pitched the team to victory with help at the plate from Miranda Brown and Taylor Augustine, who had three hits apiece.
On Saturday, the Bulldogs traveled to Alton for a round-robin tournament, winning both games with ease to take top honors.
Brown, Kylie Albrecht and Kaitlyn Storm contributed three hits each in a 17-3 win over Wood River, as Kasey Bradley struck out nine for the victory in the pitching circle. Hannah King and Emelia Modglin added two hits apiece.
Meyer allowed just three hits on the mound in a five-inning, 12-0 victory over Alton to win the tourney. King went 3-for-3 at the plate with two RBIs.
Waterloo’s wins this spring have come in a variety of ways — five victories have been by one run and 11 of them have been by 10 runs or more.
With a win at Highland on Wednesday, Waterloo will clinch the Mississippi Valley Conference. The ‘Dogs host Mascoutah on Thursday in a game that was rescheduled from Monday due to rain.
Mason is familiar with the game of softball, having played off and on with a traveling men’s fast-pitch team based out of his hometown of Pinckneyville since 1987.
“We try to play the way I feel is the right way to play and win in the men’s game,” Mason said. “Good pitching and defense are key.”
Mason also said serving as an assistant coach with Waterloo the past three seasons has been helpful in terms of skill development.
He credits the solid pitching of Bradley (18-0, 1.40 ERA) and Meyer (10-0, 1.11 ERA) as well as the offensive production from Modglin (.524 average) and four-year starter Albrecht (.473, 39 runs) as catalysts to the undefeated start.
“Kylie has been tremendous in the leadoff spot,” Mason said. “Her ability to get on base and take the extra base when it’s there serves as a great model for our younger players.”
Brown and Storm have also heated up at the plate of late, Mason said, making for a balanced lineup capable of scoring plenty of runs.
“It’s nice to see the community taking interest with the crowds at our games and the words of encouragement,” he said. “I hope we can keep it up.”Columbia’s Rachel Garcia connects on a pitch during a recent home game. (John Spytek photo)
Eagles still soaring
While Waterloo’s 29-0 start commands attention, the Columbia softball team continues to go about its business.
The Eagles are 19-2 following recent blowout wins over Breese Central on May 5 and Wesclin on May 7.
Courtney Weilbacher and Caitlyn Touchette were the offensive stars last week. Weilbacher went 3-for-4 and Touchette went 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs in a 12-2 win over Central.
Touchette went 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBIs and Weilbacher went 2-for-3 with a homer and three RBIs in a 12-1 win over Wesclin.
Pitcher Brina Rujawitz picked up both wins for Eagles.
Rachel Garcia leads the team in hitting with a .530 average and four home runs. Taryn Pena is next at .519. Touchette is hitting .487 with four home runs and 44 RBIs.
Columbia hosts Freeburg on Wednesday, hoping to avenge an earlier defeat. The Eagles host Dupo on Thursday and play Edwardsville and Nashville on Saturday.
Tigers on the prowl
The Dupo softball team is now 18-6 on the spring following more recent wins.
The Tigers took care of Valmeyer on Thursday, 11-1, getting two hits each from Alyssa Strubberg, Taylor Winkler, Skylure Barlow, Meg Brown and Stormy Sellers, plus a home run from Rachael Donald.
Dupo played at Gibault on Tuesday and will battle Columbia on Thursday before hosting Steeleville on Friday.
Brown continues to lead the team, and the area, in hitting at .628 with five home runs and 34 RBIs. Donald is hitting .463 with 11 doubles.
Jessica Stansch has been solid in the pitching circle, posting a 15-4 record and 1.67 ERA.
Other local action
Gibault (6-18) lost to Nashville last Tuesday and Mater Dei last Wednesday. The Hawks played Dupo on Tuesday.
Paige Wriston leads the team with a .394 average. Morgan Wiegand is hitting .349.
Prior to Thursday’s loss at Dupo, Valmeyer picked up a 14-4 win over Marissa last Tuesday.
Mia Gerli and Cierra Goldschmidt picked up three hits apiece for the Pirates and Jaynie Vanatta, Miranda Kaufmann and Samantha Sensel each had two hits.
Valmeyer (5-14) hosts Okawville on Wednesday and Steeleville on Thursday.
Kaufmann leads the team with a .588 average, followed by Vanatta at .484 and Sensel at .460.