GODFREY — Mother Nature transformed the Redbird Round Robin into a bracketed tournament on Saturday, but she couldn't deny heavily favorited Waterloo from taking the championship.
The undefeated Bulldogs bested East Alton-Wood River 17-3 in five innings and then cruised by the host Redbirds 12-0 in the title tilt to win the tournament and improve to 28-0 on the season.
Alton kicked things off with a come-from-behind 11-10 victory over the Wesclin Warriors. Unfortunately rain washed out Wesclin's game against the Oilers for third place.
AHS is now 15-12 on the season after splitting two games on Saturday. EA-WR dipped to 13-19 with the loss to Waterloo. Wesclin is 11-12 after losing to Alton.
A steady drizzle caused for slick softballs and slippery conditions, but it couldn't break Waterloo's focus on Saturday in the tourney.
“I don't know what it is, but I hope this group can maintain the focus that they have, because I've been very pleased, especially in the last week or so with the way they've come out and taken care of business,” first-year Waterloo head coach Matt Mason said. “I haven't had to get on their case about it much, they're just very focused and I've been very pleased with the way they've been approaching games.”
EA-WR head coach Dana Emerick and AHS head coach Dan Carter were well aware of the potency of the Bulldogs' lineup before the Redbird Round Robin.
“They’re undefeated for a reason,” Emerick said. “They pound it one through nine. We do some pretty detailed scouting reports that we go over with the girls before the game, but this one was pretty simple actually. One through nine, we’ve got to battle.”
Carter touted Waterloo's abilities too, but praised his girls for getting to the championship game Saturday.
“They’re a very good team,” Carter said. “A lot of people are calling us young, but like I tell them, ‘We’re not young, we’re inexperienced.’ You can’t get older overnight, but you’re going to gain experience every time out. Every time we play we’re going to get a little more experienced. We’re starting four freshmen and we’ve played in two tournaments and played for the championship both times. We didn’t win either one, but things are looking up for us. Was that our best game against Waterloo? No, but they’re a pretty good team.”
Carter was stoked about how his Birds mounted a comeback against the Warriors in the first game of the day.
Trailing 8-1 entering the home-half of the sixth inning, the Redbirds erupted for seven runs to tie it 8-8. Wesclin responded with two runs in the top of the seventh, but Alton tacked on three more for the win, including a walk off, bases loaded walk to Savannah Fisher.
Bronte Fencel starred at the plate in the win with a 3 for 4 day with four RBIs. Fisher had two RBIs in the game. Brittany Roady went the distance and earned the win in the circle.
“Maybe we didn't have our best game against Wesclin, but we showed a lot of heart,” Carter said. “We showed a lot of character and when you're inexperienced that's good. You take those baby steps and build on that. Here's a team that's going to be together for another year and a half, so we're making strides.
“It was a great experience to see the girls believe in themselves. They believe in what we're teaching them and they're out there working hard and keep putting a good bat on the ball and good things will happen. We didn't give up and that's what we really like about this group of girls.”
Emerick feels the same way about his young squad, which only has two seniors. Alton has no seniors.
The Oilers had flashes from freshman pitcher Morgan Moxey, who held Waterloo hitless in two innings during her outing and watched as No. 9 hitter Peyton Young went 2 for 2 with a double and three RBIs to pace the offense.
“We've got positives all up and down our lineup,” Emerick said. “We are fairly young, we've got two seniors, so we're going to fill out with a pretty good team next year. Moxey looks like she's probably going to be our No. 1, so we'll ride her like we've been riding Tori (Beachum). She's just an outstanding athlete.
“(Peyton Young) is not a No. 9 hitter. She's a good hitter and we've got her down there just for that reason, because teams are thinking, 'OK No. 9 hitter, we'll go get her, she's terrible.' That's not the case. She's our extra leadoff hitter.”
But in the end neither EA-WR or Alton had an answer for the bats of the Bulldogs. Waterloo enjoyed a five-run first and a 10-run fourth against the Oilers and then got a two-run first and a six-run second to set the tone vs. the Redbirds.
“I was very pleased with the way we swung the bats today,” said Mason. “It was a nice surprise. We haven’t been swinging it that well lately, but we were as aggressive as we wanted to be today at the plate.
“We have some seniors that have played a lot of softball. We have some very good talent and we’ve got a good core group. It’s more than just nine players right now. We’ve got kids that are just all about it. I just feel very fortunate to coach a group this good.”
Against EA-WR, the Bulldogs got three hits and three RBIs from Kaitlyn Storm and three hits and two RBIs from leadoff hitter Kylie Albrecht. Then against AHS it was Hannah King with three hits and two RBIs.
Ace Kasey Bradley earned the win in the circle vs. the Oilers, while No. 2 Mallory Meyer garnered the victory over the Redbirds.
Moxey suffered the loss for EA-WR against Waterloo. Sydney Hartman was the loser for Alton vs. the Bulldogs.
The Oilers are back in action at 4:30 p.m. Monday, while the Redbirds are idle until 4:30 p.m. Tuesday when they battle East St. Louis in Southwestern Conference action.
REDBIRD ROUND ROBIN
WATERLOO 12, ALTON 0 FIVE INNINGS
Waterloo 2 6 1 2 1 — 12 9 0
Alton 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 3 2
ALTON (15-12) — Taylor Herrin 1-2, Rachel McCoy 1-2, Shannon Jackson 1-2.
LP — Sydney Hartman 1.1IP 6H 8R 7ER 1BB 0K 2HBP
Herrin 1.2 IP 2H 1R 1ER 1BB 1K
Savannah Fisher 1.0IP 1H 2R 2ER 1BB 0K
Miranda Hudson 1.0IP 0H 1R 1ER 4BB 1K
WATERLOO (28-0) — Kylie Albrecht 1-2 RBI, Aimee Dillenberger 1-1 BB RBI, Taylor Augustine 1-1 BB HBP, Katy Polacek 0-0 BB, Emelia Modglin 1-3 2B HBP, Erica Schaab 0-0 2 BBs SAC RBI, Kaitlyn Storm 1-3, Katlyn Menke 0-0 BB, Ashley Reeder 0-3 BB, Hannah King 3-3 3B 2 RBIs, Miranda Brown 1-3.
WP — Mallory Meyer 5.0IP 3H 0R 0ER 0BB 4K