ROXANA – Tori Beachum and the East Alton-Wood River Oilers threw everything they had at the Dupo Tigers on Saturday.
Yet it wasn’t quite enough.
Dupo shaded EA-WR, 1-0 in eight innings to win the Class 2A Roxana Regional softball championship. The 21-7 Tigers advanced to play Pleasant Plains on Tuesday in the Williamsville Sectional. The Oilers, denied their first regional softball title in school history, closed at 17-20.
“What can you say? We played hard and gave it our all,” EA-WR coach Dana Emerick said. “I don’t feel bad for our kids.”
Rachel Donald’s two-out run-scoring single to center field in the bottom of the eighth propelled the Tigers deeper into postseason play. It didn’t come easy, Tigers’ coach Greg Pennock said.
“It was a great game. We got the big hit when we needed it and Rachel is a disciplined hitter,” Pennock said of Donald. “That’s the best game I’ve ever seen Beachum pitch. We knew she’s a good pitcher, but when you get into the playoffs, everybody steps it up a notch.
“I’ve never seen her that consistent.”
Beachum struck out 10 and allowed six hits. The senior left-hander, bound for SIUE, finished her season with a 16-7 record, a 2.01 ERA and 260 strikeouts in 160 innings.
“That’s the best game I’ve ever pitched,” Beachum said. “I can’t complain about the way we played today. Our defense played great today. We played with a lot of emotion and character.
She said, "I’m never going to forget the experience I’ve had here, but I’m excited to go on to the next level. I can’t wait.”
Emerick pointed out, “Tori was Tori. She’s big and strong and pitched a heck of a game.”
The Oilers managed only four hits off Dupo’s Jessica Stansch, who struck out seven. Their best opportunity came in the eighth inning when Morgan Moxey stroked a two-out triple. Then Stansch retired Haley Shewmake to end the inning. Moxey was hit by a pitch to open the sixth inning and reached third base with two outs, but also was stranded there.
Moxey went 2-for-3 and reached base three times to stir the offense. Left fielder Katie Hall made a couple of big catches to spark the defense.
“They got the big hit and we didn’t do that,” Emerick said. “I really didn’t expect a 1-0 game because it was a high-scoring game (Dupo won 10-6) the last time we played them. I expected us to score some runs.”
The lone run came thanks in part to the fleet footwork of Tigers’ leadoff hitter Alyssa Strubberg. She beat out a bunt single with two outs in the eighth and continued to second base on a throwing error. Beachum walked Megan Brown, hitting a torrid .616. Then came Donald, who was 1-for-3 with a first-inning single.
She singled to center field and Strubberg hustled home with the winning run.
“One big hit – that was it,” Emerick said. “It came down to a situation where they had their best hitters coming to the plate. We knew all about Donald, but didn’t want Brown to bat. Then she (Donald) gets a hit on the first pitch.”
Beachum added, “I tip my cap to her for getting that hit.”
EA-WR won six of its final eight games and Emerick said the Oilers came of age during the stretch run of the season. Dupo ended EA-WR's four-game winning streak.
“We were playing our best ball at the end of the year and that’s what you want to see,” Emerick said. “It was a hard-working group and they turned adversity into something positive. That’s what I will remember the most about them.”
Beachum said, “We came together so much and really wanted to win the regional because we’ve never done that before. And we were so close to doing it.
“It’s hard to lose by one run, but it was a great game.”
CLASS 2A ROXANA REGIONAL
DUPO 1, EA-WR 0, eight innings
EA-WR 000 000 00 -- 1 5 2
Dupo 000 000 01 – 1 6 0
Dupo (21-7) – Alyssa Strubberg 1-4, Rachel Donald 2-4 RBI, Taylor Esmon 1-3 2B, Skylur Barlow 1-3, Caitlyn Brizzi 1-2. WP – Jessica Stansch IP-8 H-5 R-0 BB-1 K-7
EA-WR (17-20) – Morgan Moxey 2-3 3B, Haley Shewmake 1-3, Emme Flanigan 1-3, Courtney Beneke 1-3. LP – Tori Beachum IP-7 H-6 R-1 ER-1 BB-2 K-10